Maryland State Police troopers in Harford County conducted what they called "Operation Heat Wave" Friday afternoon to encourage motorists to drive safer. Unfortunately, there was a fatal accident earlier in the day, the first in July.
Troopers were out in force in Harford County as part of an initiative to reduce accidents and enforce criminal violations, between the hours of 2 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday. Motorists had been forewarned in press advisories that there would be an enforcement crackdown on several major state highways in the county.
Although State Police said the operation was their most productive in Harford County this year, with no serious crimes or fatal motor vehicle crashes during the operation, there was a fatal accident near Forest Hill less than four hours earlier on Friday.
Margaret Mary Campbell, a 79-year-old Bel Air resident, died as a result of a two-car accident around 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Grafton Shop Road and Route 23, according to a news release from the State Police Bel Air Barrack.
Campbell was headed south on Grafton Shop Road in a 2005 Ford Focus, approaching the Route 23 intersection, when she failed to yield the right-of-way to a 2005 Ford Pickup, driven by David John Jockel, 57, of Fallston, traveling west on Route 23, according to the news release.
The Focus was broadsided by the pickup in the intersection and Campbell was then flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she later died as a result of her injuries, State Police said.
Including Friday's accident, there have been 17 fatal accidents in Harford County and, had this one not occurred, July would have been the first month this year without a fatal accident on Harford highways.
Traffic safety enforcement
During the 13 hours of Operation Heath Wave, there were 15 troopers patrolling major highways in Harford, which resulted in 11 arrests and more than 115 traffic stops during which troopers issued 75 citations and 91 warnings, State Police said.
For Friday's operation, the state troopers concentrated on Route 40, Route 1 and Route 24.
Driving under the influence arrests included Rachel L. Phillips, 30, of Edgewood; Jose E. Corea-Mejia, 41, of Abingdon; and Juan Martinez, 38, of Abingdon.
In addition, Deanna E. Myers, 40, of Rockingham, N.C., was charged with driving on a suspended license, according to the release.
Other arrests Friday included a 17-year-old Joppa resident, who was charged with marijuana possession; Maya L. Farris, 18, of Edgewood, charged with theft; Kenneth D. Pakulski, 31, of Bel Air, charged with marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession; Keith L. Davis, 30, of Perry Hall, charged with drug paraphernalia and marijuana possession; Adam P. Meissner, 31, of Towson, charged with marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession; Jon R. Malone, 32, of Edgewood, arrested on a warrant; and James Sweed, 29, of Oxford, Pa., who was charged with marijuana possession.
Also on Friday night, the Maryland Transportation Authority was conducting their own sobriety checkpoint at the Thomas Hatem Memorial Bridge toll plaza in order to educate the public and prevent alcohol-related accidents, according to a news release.
In addition to arresting impaired drivers, the Maryland Transportation Authority was also planning on distributing information about the laws and penalties regarding drunk driving.