Residents renew call for guardrail


Residents of an Eldersburg neighborhood where a car crashed into a house early Wednesday say they have been asking highway officials for 12 years to install a guardrail on Freedom Avenue near Johnsville Road.

"We've asked for years for a guardrail. This is the third time that a car has come down and [at least] gotten close to a house," said Scott Carr, whose 13-year-old son, Andrew, was not seriously hurtwhen the car slammed into his bedroom.

Police said that David A. Brengle, 46, of the 700 block of Sandosky Road in Sykesville lost control of his 1990 Ford Probe at 1:10 a.m. Wednesday. The car traveled about 100 yards off Freedom Avenue, hitting a tree and a fence before slamming into the Carr family's house.

"The car was completely inside the house. All you could see from the outside were the tail lights," Mr. Carr said.

The investigating officer, Tfc. Carol Dorn, could not be reached yesterday. Sgt. C. J. Stiles, a spokeswoman at the Westminster state police barracks, said that a citation was issued but that she did not know what charges were filed.

Mr. Brengle, reached yesterday at his home, said he did not want to comment. "I'm a little shaken up," he said.

Andrew Carr, who awoke to find a car on top of his bed in his basement bedroom, said he thought he was having a nightmare at first. After freeing himself, Andrew discovered he had only a cut and bump on his head. "My mom had said that we needed a guardrail before because when I was younger a car ran through my neighbor's foundation. But it never crossed my mind that a car would come through my house and land on top of me," Andrew said.

Mr. Carr said that Andrew "is not acting like himself. He is vacant and spacey."

Andrew said that he is nervous about sleeping in his room again, although he won't have to until repairs to the house are finished.

Members of the Piney Ridge neighborhood association said they have made calls, signed petitions, and written letters to state and county roads officials since the neighborhood was built 12 years ago.

Roxie Wojcik, who served on the neighborhood's executive board, years, said their requests have been denied because State Highway Administration officials contend that guardrails are the responsibility of the developer.

"When we went to the county and state, they wouldn't take responsibility," Ms. Wojcik said. "No one would come through for us."

Benton Watson, the SHA's chief of the Bureau of Roads Operations in Westminster, said the agency has a record of the neighborhood's request for a guardrail in 1985. But he said it has not been a continual request.

Mr. Watson said the location does not meet standards for installation of a guardrail.

But residents remain concerned. "I'm scared to death. I don't feel safe anymore," said Cheri Massey, who lives next door to the Carrs. Her deck, fence and window were damaged in the accident. "I am a taxpayer to Carroll County and they need to protect me."

Ms. Wojcik said that the neighborhood can expect one to two cars coming over the hill every winter. "They don't always come the whole way down but there is still that fear," she said.

Neighborhood association members plan to step up their efforts to get a guardrail, but they are not optimistic.

"I don't see anything happening anytime soon," said Carl Harrington, the association's president.

Resident Laura Rhodes, the association's past president, has started making phone calls and plans to write a letter.

Mr. Watson said the agency will examine the roadway again. "I don't know if something has changed to warrant a guardrail. We will check it out again."

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