Keep Our Children Safe on Old Stockbridge Road in Ellicott City
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On the evening of January 25, 2017, I kissed my husband and two sons goodbye as they headed out for my eldest son’s weekly music lesson at 7pm. My eldest, who is nine years old, has played piano by ear since he was four, an anomaly in our mostly tone-deaf family. My six-year old tagged along with his toy dinosaur and alligator clutched in his palms. He enjoys making his toys dance to the music his brother plays. I stayed home with our newborn son, who had just fallen asleep in my arms.
I heard a soft beep of the car horn as they backed out of the driveway, a habit my husband developed to alert any possible pedestrians he was backing up. We live on a block full of rambunctious little boys. It is important to all of us that we navigate the road safely. Just a few minutes later, as I nestled into the rocking chair in our living room, I heard an awful sound. A bang, a pop, skidding and then a long, unending horn.
I knew it was them.
I hopped up with my newborn in my arms and ran out the house. We boarded our other car and prepared to exit our cul de sac. As we approached the intersection between our block and the main road, I saw their car, our car, air bags deployed, the front unrecognizable with glass and dust blanketing the road. My family, my whole world, everything I held dear, could have been gone.
Just as I prepared to run to the car, I heard the comforting voice of a neighbor yell, “They’re okay.” I looked to my right and there standing on the side walk was my husband and my two sons, crying, bruised and banged up, but alive. It wasn’t until I stood in the ambulance with my children that I realized I hadn’t even stopped to put on shoes.
In the hours that followed the accident, two eye witnesses gave statements to the investigating officers verifying that the other vehicle, a red Ford Mustang was speeding. Not only was the sixteen-year old driver cited for speeding, he was cited for crossing a double solid line multiple times to pass other vehicles. While my family and our neighbors were horrified at the driver’s recklessness, we were not surprised. Those of us that regularly walk Old Stockbridge are accustomed to speeding vehicles using the curvy and down hill road as a quick connection between Route 108 and MD 103. There are no stop signs. There are no lights. There are no speed bumps. There are no barriers in place to ensure the safety of our community.
Old Stockbridge Road is home to Bellows Spring Elementary School where hundreds of students in neighboring communities, including mine, live on a walking route. That is, in order to get our elementary age children to school each day, we must navigate this road.
My family was fortunate. I got to kiss, embrace and touch them again. The sixteen-year old driver of the other vehicle survived to do the same. I can’t help but think of what could have happened if my family hadn’t been driving a heavy Nissan Pathfinder, if they had been hit at another angle, hit by a larger car, or if my family hadn’t been wearing their seatbelts. My sons are afraid to get back in the car. They are afraid of the sounds they heard, their screams, the memory of their disoriented father pulling them from the wreckage. My nine-year old bursts into tears thinking about it, and my six-year old, who suffered a concussion, is having trouble with his memory and processing difficult tasks and emotions.
Both cars were totaled but cars can be replaced. Lives can not.
Please join me in requesting our elected and appointed officials keep our children safe and install speed bumps and traffic lights on both ends of Old Stockbridge Road in Ellicott City.
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