Beltway crash kills highway worker

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A construction worker died in a hit-and-run crash yesterday morning on the inner loop of the Baltimore Beltway near the York Road exit when a car smashed through a barrier and hit the man, carrying him for about 100 feet, state police said.

William M. Ruffin, 42, of the 2900 block of W. North Ave. was pronounced dead at the scene, state police said.

After a silver-colored BMW was found several hours after the 5:30 a.m. crash, troopers located the driver, and he agreed to speak with investigators, state police said. No charges have been filed, state police said in a statement issued last night. Police did not release the driver's name.

The two left lanes were closed for about five hours, police said. Traffic on the inner loop was backed up for more than two miles.

The driver of the two-door BMW pulled over on the right shoulder of Interstate 695 after striking the worker, quickly got out and back into the car, drove away and exited onto Dulaney Valley Road, police said.

Prompted by a 911 call, troopers about 9 a.m. found the heavily damaged BMW abandoned on Station Road, just north of Falls Road, at the Greenspring Station business complex.

The crew at the York Road site was with the Joseph B. Fay Co., which does road construction throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Several people were pouring concrete for the interstate's median at the time of the crash, said Valerie Edgar, spokeswoman for the State Highway Administration.

Shawn Fay, president of the Fay Co., said that the worker who died and a second employee were cleaning out the metal chute of a concrete truck when the car hit the concrete barricade. The two were inside the designated work zone but away from the rest of the crew. The second employee was not injured, police said.

The construction project, started in September 2003, involves replacing the York Road bridge.

The company has complained for months to SHA about the speed of the vehicles passing the construction site, Fay said. At the time of the crash, a state trooper in a patrol car was at the site. In addition, a company truck was parked near the workers as protection for the crew.

State police cars are placed at the nighttime project "to serve as a deterrent," Edgar said. "But it's not always effective" at slowing speeders in construction zones.

Edgar said that SHA is aware of the risk to workers, especially along the Beltway. In March last year, David A. Bowles, an employee of Facchina Construction in La Plata, was killed on the Beltway's outer loop. Also that month on I-695 near Thornton Road, three construction workers were struck.

Fay Co. representatives plan to meet with SHA this week.

"We have to find a better way," Fay said.

Work on the project will be suspended until at least tomorrow, Edgar said.

An average of 15 construction workers die each year on Maryland roads, Edgar said.

Sun staff writer Jonathan Rockoff contributed to this article.

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