'It's out of control': Residents demand traffic fixes at site of crash that killed 5-year-old and grandmother

Lutherville-Timonium residents packed the Pot Spring Elementary School cafeteria Wednesday night to call for bump strips, stop signs and other traffic signals on the street where a girl and her grandmother were struck and killed by a vehicle last week.

“It’s out of control,” said Wendy Elkins, 42. She said her 5- and 7-year-old children are no longer allowed to play in the front yard of their home.

Deborah Limmer, 60, was walking with her 5-year-old granddaughter, Delaney Gaddis, on Girdwood Road on the morning of July 23 when police said an SUV veered onto the sidewalk and struck them. Callie Noble Schwarzman has been charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence in the crash.

Residents who live on Girdwood Road said accidents are common. Some have seen cars totaled. Others at the meeting said they regularly see drivers hit fire hydrants or hop the street’s grassy median.

“I’ve had three cars hit in the last three years,” said Tom McComas, 56. The engineer and Girdwood Road resident called for a “permanent solution” to curb speeding, such as rumble strips or stop signs.

Baltimore County Councilman Wade Kach, who represents the neighborhood, said he blames the sharp-curved street’s design.

“I think the design needs to be looked at very closely and changes need to be made,” Kach said.

Kach suggested in the meantime planting more stop signs on the street and yellow signs that read “15 mph.”

The meeting’s attendees expressed urgency for change.

“Do something tomorrow! Now means now!” a woman shouted from the crowd.

Community members suggested the Baltimore County Department of Public Works permanently close Girdwood Road, as drivers often use the street as a shortcut to major roads.

Steven Walsh, DPW director, promised updates by the first day of school.

“In a month or so we can communicate to the community some additional devices we can put in the community,” Walsh said.

The room fell silent when Brian Gaddis, Delaney Gaddis’ father, took the microphone.

“I don’t live in the neighborhood, but it pains me to hear that children can’t play in their front yards,” Gaddis said.

Delaney Gaddis’ family remembers her as a “fun-loving little girl.” Her grandmother, Deborah Limmer, worked as a nurse for nearly 30 years at Sinai Hospital.

“It’s no exaggeration to say she was the center of our family,” Tommy Limmer said of her mother, Deborah Limmer.

The meeting attracted a crowd of residents, parents and city officials. Johnny Olszewski Jr., the Democratic nominee for Baltimore County executive, was in attendance. His Republican opponent, Al Redmer, was not there but was represented by a community liaison, Justin Kinsey.

While the majority of residents called for speed bumps and signage to slow traffic, Rebecca Downie, 67, demanded more police.

“It doesn’t matter how many speed bumps there are or stop signs. It doesn’t matter if people don’t adhere to it,” the retired banker said.

“I think our prime concern is that our kids are able to walk to school safely,” said Phyllis Joris, 34, who said one of her children was almost hit by a car while walking to school. “There’s a lot of young families that all walk to school.”

“It shouldn’t have taken a tragedy to pull this together,” Brian Gaddis said.

llumpkin@baltsun.com

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