An elderly man and woman from Anne Arundel County were killed yesterday when their pickup turned into oncoming traffic on Route 32 in West Friendship and was broadsided by a dump truck, police said.
Virginia Womack, 73, and her husband, James, 74, of the 1000 block of W. Nursery Road in Linthicum Heights, were pronounced dead at the scene. The dump truck driver, Terry Hudak, 27, of Sykesville was uninjured, police said.
Hudak was apparently driving north on Route 32 in an empty dump truck used for landscaping work when Virginia Womack, who was driving south on the road, turned in front of his truck, trying to make a left turn at the flashing red arrow onto eastbound Frederick Road, according to police and one of Hudak's co-workers.
The resulting crash, just after 1 p.m., crushed the passenger side of the blue Ford pickup, killing the couple, who were both wearing seat belts, said police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn. The accident snarled traffic on northbound Route 32.
Witnesses told police that Hudak had a green light at the time of the crash, Llewellyn said. Speed did not appear to be a factor, she said.
Joseph LaMartina, the Womacks' next door neighbor, said the couple had probably come to Howard County in search of antiques; furniture was visible under the pickup bed's covering, which had been jarred by the impact.
The Womacks loved to take antique pieces they found, refinish them and resell them at flea markets, he said.
A loving couple
The few dollars they made helped to supplement their Social Security, he said.
James Womack was a retired bricklayer, and Virginia Womack was a housewife, LaMartina said.
They had lived in the West Nursery Road house for a half-century, raising four children there, he said.
The couple's three surviving children, two daughters and a son, live in the area and were frequent visitors, LaMartina said.
As a couple, the Womacks were inseparable, he said. Virginia Womack always did the driving because James Womack's eyesight was poor, he said.
"He was a good neighbor, a good family man," LaMartina said. "Them two were inseparable. When he went [out], she went. They were just glued together."
The family is devastated, he said.
"It's going to be a tough loss for me, too," he said.
'Proceed with caution'
Yesterday's crash happened at an intersection that has seen one fatal accident in five years, and that accident did not involve turning vehicles, said David Buck, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration.
The intersection was problematic in the early to mid-1990s; as a result, in 1995, transportation officials changed the signal after noticing an increasing number of left-turn accidents from northbound Route 32 to westbound Frederick Road - opposite of yesterday's crash, he said.
That problem abated when the signal changed.
Instead of a solid green light after the left turn arrow disappeared, the signal was changed to a flashing red arrow, the equivalent of a stop sign, he said.
"Basically what it's doing is forcing people to stop and proceed with caution," he said.
"This really hasn't been a problem since," Buck said.
The intersection is also one of the red light camera sites in Howard County.