It seems I’m just no longer with the times. Apparently throwing things like eggs and snowballs at cars traveling on freeways (dangerous enough in its own respect) doesn’t get a rise among children anymore. Because kids have “graduated” to throwing much more dangerous objects at cars from freeway overpasses.
In May of last year, an 18-year-old in Philadelphia was charged with throwing railroad spikes and rocks from an overpass onto cars passing below, all for the fun of it. I actually needed to see it to believe it:
Fortunately, in this instance, it did not take much to catch the perp, but the charges pressed were far too mild:
Blake Bowers, 18, is charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment of another person, police said Sunday.
Police were called to the 600 block of University Avenue in West Philly around 8:20 p.m. on Friday evening, where they found four drivers who had each had their vehicles damaged while driving under a railroad overpass toward I-76.
“The damage was caused by objects thrown from the overpass,” a police report states, a height of some 40 feet above the street.
A 45-year-old male driver told police “that after his windshield was broken by the thrown object, he parked, exited his vehicle and saw the defendant on the train tracks,” according to a police report on the incident.
Police said they found three metal railroad spikes, two metal railroad clamps and one rock at the scene.
Aggravated assault and reckless endangerment were the only charges this kid received? You would think the baseline could be “attempted murder” or something just as serious. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt or killed in this instance, and the perpetrator was able to be apprehended quickly, in part to his disregard as to the severity of his criminal actions. Perhaps the perpetrator did not think there would be any consequences? Or any charges he might have faced wouldn’t be that serious?
It seems that this is precisely the case, as about six months later, in a similar incident on the New Jersey Turnpike near Philadelphia, the perpetrators graduated from railroad spikes to 50-pound dumbbells.
This story was shared by someone who has stated that the incidents of throwing objects from overpasses is very common in the Philadelphia area. In this instance, the struck car had two passengers, the driver was (obviously) seriously hurt, and finally died on Tuesday night, which prompted this Wednesday story:
The man who was struck by a 50-pound dumbbell as it came crashing through his vehicle’s windshield on the New Jersey Turnpike has died.
New Jersey State Police tell CBS 3 that 75-year-old Jack DeCarlo died from his injuries around 7 p.m. Tuesday at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.
DeCarlo was driving his SUV on the turnpike on Jan. 9 when a 50-pound dumbbell smashed through his windshield, striking him in the head. His wife, Patricia DeCarlo, was not hurt.
Police have not said where they believe the dumbbell came from, but they did search a nearby overpass for any possible evidence.
Two possibilities have stood out so far in the case. One, the dumbbell fell off a moving car or truck or that it was possibly dropped from a turnpike overpass.
I understand the need to explore all possibilities and have an open mind when it comes to police work. But c’mon; the cops should be able to figure out what happened rather quickly in this case. Notice how high the dumbbell is on the windshield, the extent of the damage, and remember it was a 50-pound dumbbell. Also factoring in the wound profile to the victim, it shouldn’t take more than a basic physics equation to rule out the possibility that it fell (or was thrown) from another vehicle. To conclude that the dumbbell was dropped from an overpass should not be a difficult process.
Bear in mind, the incident in question occurred on Monday, January 9th, and I only found out about it after the driver had died. Two weeks later, and the police haven’t figured out the cause of the crime in question, which should have taken no more than two days. When it comes to solving the crime, ask yourself; how hard can it really be to determine where the dumbbell originally came from? It’s not exactly as though the weights in question grow on trees – nailing down a manufacturer, gym and suspect should not take very long.
If the perpetrator doesn’t face a minimum of a murder charge, it will be a serious miscarriage of justice. If parents are unwilling to teach their children to behave properly and not do deadly shit like throwing heavy objects from overpasses at cars, the law needs to take matters into their own hands. Heavy-handed punishment is the only thing that can deter such reckless, dangerous, and yes, criminal activity.
Instead, how is the state of Pennsylvania proposing to solve the problem? By mandating fencing be build around all highway overpasses.
Again, I understand how fencing would be necessary (if it’s a pedestrian safety issue), but not for the reason they are giving here. The decision in question stems from a woman who was nearly killed when a rock thrown from an overpass hit her car and struck her in the head. In the state’s infinite wisdom, they think perpetrators won’t instead throw rocks or rail spikes over/through the fence. Someone strong enough could in theory still roll the 50-pound dumbbell off the top of the above fencing. Not exactly a serious deterrent, wouldn’t you agree?
A state senator is not giving up on his effort to fulfill a wish of the late Randy Budd, husband of the Ohio school teacher critically injured when a rock smashed the windshield of their car on Interstate 80 in 2014.
The Senate this session failed to act on the bill that would require protective fences on new or rehabilitated overpasses over interstate and limited access highways in Pennsylvania.
Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, the bill’s chief sponsor, said he will reintroduce it in 2017. He said he believes the chances of it passing will be better getting it in at the beginning of a session.
The legislation also would require PennDOT to consider, regardless of the type of highway, fencing for pedestrian bridges in urban areas and those from which objects have been thrown or dropped if the situation has not been alleviated by warning signs.
Wouldn’t a much easier solution be to simply prosecute these crimes incredibly harshly? Throwing something like eggs or snowballs at cars is already dangerous enough and could cause a serious accident. The best (and easiest) way to stop reckless behavior that goes above and beyond, involving rocks and other heavy objects thrown at cars, is to aggressively pursue the offenders who commit these crimes. As it stands, a baseline for anyone caught doing this should be attempted murder, with some leeway given to the prosecutors and police when charging the perpetrators.
The state shouldn’t need legislation and/or a fence to deter this activity; better enforcement of the law, and classifying this behavior as a murder/manslaughter felony charge is the best, easiest, and likely most effective course of action. And, in the case of whoever threw a gym dumbbell at a vehicle, it is more than deserved. A fence is merely a paper-thin deterrent that is not only easily defeated, it does not get to the root of the problem – murderous behavior that is not classified as such by the authorities.