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Give Them a Brake

The Maryland State Highway Administration yesterday urged drivers to be cautious when they pass through work zones following the deaths of two members of a highway crew and the injury of three other men on Route 29 in Burtonsville this week.

The five, employees of PDI Sheetz of Linthicum Heights, were working on a bridge patching project along Route 29 over the Patuxent River.

Manuel De Jesus Gonzalez-Geronimo, 31, was driving a north on Route 29 at about 1 p.m. on Monday when his van struck a truck, then pinned the five workers who were sitting on a guardrail north of Route 198, near the Howard County line, The Post reported.

Martin Ruffin, 30, of Baltimore and James Cronin, 37, of Glen Burnie were fatally injured. Two other men are in critical condition. Gonzalez-Geronimo, who police said is an unlicensed driver in the country illegally, fled after the accident but later turned himself in. Police said he has been charged with fleeing the scene of a fatal crash and other offenses.

"Our thoughts are with the Ruffin and Cronin families, the injured workers and their families and co-workers," State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen said in a statement yesterday. "Safety is our number one priority, and SHA takes every precaution to keep both workers and motorists safe. Motorists, too, have a paramount role in keeping workers safe -- it begins with driving attentively and reducing speeds."

This has been a deadly season in Maryland's work zones. Richard W. Moser, a state highway maintenance worker was killed on Route 340 in Frederick County and a prison worker on a litter detail was killed on Interstate 95 in Prince George's County.

The SHA said there can be as many as 300 work zones across Maryland. You can find their locations on www.marylandroads.com.

Last year, acording to the SHA, more than 2,200 work zone crashes left 13 people dead and injured 1,072. Nationwide, there were more than 1,000 fatalities in work zones. Four out of five of the people killed were drivers or passengers.

Maryland has a Strategic Highway Safety Plan. But for any individual driver, the best advice is, stay alert. Take your eyes off the road for one second while driving 65 mph and you travel 100 feet, the SHA notes.

By Robert Thomson  |  August 15, 2007; 4:43 PM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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Comments

This article demonstrates why it may be important to have a police detail sitting out in front of the work zone, so people slow down and if anything happens, maybe there's a better chance that lives can be saved and justice can be done.

But what is up with SO MANY police officers being paid to sit in their cars or stand around directing traffic? I know police can make up to what, $90 an hour on overtime? This is ridiculous. Often times I see 2 cops sitting there at a construction zone for a simple lane closure. I've seen up to 6 cops at a freeway interchange where multiple ramps were closed or under construction. And when a freeway ramp is CLOSED, why not just barricade instead of posting an officer there all day and night? It doesn't make any sense. Someone please clue me in.

Posted by: Greg | August 16, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

How about if you give the citizens of the USA a break, Dr. Gridlock. Manuel De Jesus Gonzalez-Geronimo is an illegal alien who disregarded out immigration laws, our employement laws, our driving laws, and probably many other laws. The fact is that Montgomery County police charge over a dozen illegal aliens every week with unlicensed driving. They walk away after paying a modest fine (or no fine at all) and then go back to driving again.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

How about if you give the citizens of the USA a break, Dr. Gridlock. Manuel De Jesus Gonzalez-Geronimo is an illegal alien who disregarded out immigration laws, our employement laws, our driving laws, and probably many other laws. The fact is that Montgomery County police charge over a dozen illegal aliens every week with unlicensed driving. They walk away after paying a modest fine (or no fine at all) and then go back to driving again.

Posted by: Romeo | August 16, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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