From the Maryland State Police, Bel Air Barrack:
Maryland State Police are continuing their investigation into the cause of a fatal motor vehicle crash which occurred at 7:40 a.m. Friday at Creswell Road (Route 543) just south of Goat Hill Road.
Thomas John Higgins, 52 yoa, of Guy Way, Dundalk, Maryland was operating a 2005 Ford Van northbound on Creswell Road, south of Goat Hill Road. The van then crossed the centerline of the roadway and sideswiped a southbound Chevrolet Malibu, operated by James Maxwell French, 62 yoa, of Kirby Circle, Bel Air, Maryland. The van then deflected from the Malibu and then struck a 1995 Volkswagen Golf, head-on, which had also been traveling southbound on Creswell Road. The Volkswagen Golf was being operated by George Kreutzer Jr., 53 yoa, of High Point Road, Forest Hill, Maryland.
The operator Kreutzer was flown by Maryland State Police medevac (Trooper 1) to R. Adams Cowley, Shock Trauma. At approximately 9:00 a.m. it was learned that Mr. Kreutzer died as a result of the injuries sustained during this crash.
Operator Higgins was transported via ambulance to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with minor injuries and was later released. Based upon interviews and statements made at the crash scene it appears that operator Higgins fell asleep which resulted in the van he was operating crossing the centerline of the roadway, into oncoming traffic.
Corporal M. G. Brady (reconstructionist) and Trooper P. D. Orem are assigned this investigation and are consulting with the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office as to the proper charges to be levied.
A primary responsibility of the Maryland State Police in Harford County remains that of motor vehicle crash reduction on State and U. S. Routes. Fatal motor vehicle crash prediction remains difficult as commonalities in Harford County fatal crashes are few. Because of this, the strategy for troopers at the Maryland State Police, Bel Air Barrack, continues to be that of reducing the common denominator in any fatal crash, the crash itself. In late 2010, after identifying “high crash” areas in collaboration with the Maryland State Highway Administration, it was clear that additional partnerships would be helpful in achieving our goal of reducing crashes.
Soon after, the concept of the Harford County Traffic Task Force was presented to our partners from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, the Aberdeen Police Department, the Bel Air Police Department and the Havre De Grace Police Department. In April, 2010, the Harford County Traffic Task Force was mobilized in response to the need for cohesive and “high visibility” traffic enforcement in designated “high crash” areas.
The partnerships have significantly increased high visibility enforcement efforts in identified problematic areas and maximized resource sharing. Despite the tragic crashes over the past several weeks, and today, innovative concepts like this appear to be making a difference.
Troopers are analyzing crash data more closely than ever before, and in daily fashion, to gain valuable “real-time” insight into the total picture of Harford County crashes on our State and U.S. routes. Additionally, troopers have collaborated with analysts at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland for geo-mapping services in order to further aid in targeting/identifying areas in need of attention. As a result of technological advancements there will be even more proactive ideas in the near future dealing with this critical quality of life issue. Traffic enforcement locations, dates, and times will continue to be posted on www.mdsp.org (click barracks and Barrack D – Bel Air).
Some encouraging statistics include fatal motor vehicle crashes stabilizing to 23 between 2010 and 2011. There were 26 fatal motor vehicle crashes during 2009. Also, a query of local crash statistics (below) revealed that the total number of crashes handled by the Maryland State Police declined between 2010 and 2011.
Please keep in mind that the above crash strategies and successes are not meant to minimize the tragedies that our citizens have experienced over the past several weeks.
Please rest assured that the Maryland State Police, and our partners, are continuing to do our very best to save lives and reduce motor vehicle crashes within our county. In response to the recent fatalities, enforcement activities are planned throughout the week along the Creswell Road (Route 543) area between Route 22 and I-95.
“The partnerships have significantly increased high visibility enforcement efforts in identified problematic areas and maximized resource sharing. Despite the tragic crashes over the past several weeks, and today, innovative concepts like this appear to be making a difference.”
How on earth are they making a difference? I guess the measurement tool is something other than seeing less people killed.
I understand that there are many who don’t wish to see roads widened since it would encourage more growth but this is absurd. May-be in the meantime the County or the State could find money in their budgets to put the rumble strips on top of the center yellow lines to warn motorists who are asleep or distracted that they have crossed over and prevent some of these accidents. There are many roads in PA that do not have shoulders where this has been done. Just a thought…
Bobby Weaver says
MD rte 22 should have been widened from MD rte 543 all the way to I-95 since BRAC was in its infancy, but where oh where did the promises (and money) go?
Otto Schmidlap says
Newer, bigger, wider, smoother, flatter, drier, prettier, snazzier, jazzier roadways do one thing very well…they attract more traffic.
David A. Porter says
Otto, the only way they attract more traffic is if the other roads in the area are overburdened… we’ve done this dance before Otto… I invite you to pour asphalt in your yard and see if it spawns a car.
BRAC Family says
I wonder the same. We moved from NJ to MD as part of BRAC and we heard all the promises regarding infrastructure improvements. But in typical politician fashion, it was all talk and no action. I was hoping the MD politicians were not as crooked as those in NJ, but as the song says, “meet the new boss . . . same as the old boss.”
Old Skool says
543 claims another life. This time an innocent victim was killed by an inattentive driver crossing the yellow line. Unfortunately he will probably get no jail time and a small fine after tearing a family apart.
This is again another tragedy. My condolences to the families involved.
Old Skool, remember that the definition of accident is: an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap: automobile accidents. Without knowing all the facts, none of us posters can conclude that any criminal activity contributed to the accident.
Other posters raise excellent points about widening and upgrading certain roads in Harford County. It is impossible to say that improvements on these roads would have prevented the referenced accident. Two the main roads in need of improvements are routes 543 and 22. These routes are woefully inadequate for the current volume of traffic. Its about time the county and state addressed this matter.
They surveyed all these roads back in the 70s about “widening.” Guess what? Never happened.
To those people who claim BRAC is the cause of all the traffic, get real too. It was already bad enough before all those people came to work and live here in Harford County. BRAC only causes morning and evening rush hour problems by APG.
Drive Harford County at 2-3AM, and it might take you back to 1960.
Old Skool says
OK, if you want to get technical we will call it a motor vehicle collision,but there is always a reason someone crosses a double yellow line.
Most of these accidents would not be solved by widening. Rumble strips might help. I hate the thought of it, but lowering the speed limit would also help save lives.
Lowering speed limits does not reduce driven speeds, and lowering driven speeds — even it could be done by changing the numbers on speed limit signs — won’t prevent accidents or save lives.
This accident was apparently caused by a driver falling asleep. No amount of traffic law enforcement, and no amount of speed limit tinkering, can prevent that.
No, but someone involved in a head on collision at 30 mph as opposed to a head on collision at 50 mph, probably has a higher rate/chance of survival. So ultimately yes, lowering the speed limit can save lives. Most people would probably be very upset if it was lowered.
Sure if a speed limit is posted at 30 mph doesn’t mean everyone driving that route will advise by it. But a combination of speed limit changes and higher traffic enforcement can greatly affect a persons driving habit.
I beg to differ about your last statement.
“This accident was apparently caused by a driver falling asleep. No amount of traffic law enforcement, and no amount of speed limit tinkering, can prevent that.”
If the speed limit was lower: regardless if he fell asleep, lost control, got distracted, the collision at a lower rate of speed may have spared a life.
Not saying it should be lowered to 30 mph. That was just a number I was throwing out there.
Todd Holden says
wake up, literally..it’s not the roadways, not the police, not the weather, it’s the drivers…drivers like Mr.George Kreutzer were paying attention to the road, they were driving the way they are supposed to…he was killed by another driver who was not driving the way he should, he wasn’t paying attention or this fatal would never have happened. Until drivers realize to focus on the job at hand, namely, driving defensively and w/in the law and the traffic lanes, these senseless tragedies will continue. It’s not about age, to wit this latest fatality…it’s about waking up and paying attention to the job at hand…not texting, not yaking on the cell, not arguing with the kids in the backseat…or tailgating the guy in front of you who is driving the way they should…the news is always the same…’driver crossed the center line’….no need to cross the center line if you are focused and paying attention…just wake up, driving is a full time job…it’s not that much to ask, really!
Otto Schmidlap says
This makes sense. Mr. Holden is – and always has been – a voice of reason in a world gone mad.
Amen, Mr. Holden. Your comment regarding just “wake up” would certainly apply to Mr. Higgins, as it would appear he has admitted to falling asleep and crossing the center line.
When drivers pay full attention to the task of driving, accidents are avoided even on, and at, poorly designed roads and intersections. You are, for the most part, defenseless when someone crosses the center line right in front of you.
It still amazes me of the number of people that can not keep a vehicle in a path almost twice as wide as the vehicle. It is usually about focus and attention as Mr. Holden describes and it is getting worse.Crossing the line, as many fatal accidents do, would not have anything to do with teh number of lanes wide a road is.It is all in the driver’s hands literally. When you are driving you have one job and one job only…driving. Not eating, chatting, texting, drinking, etc.
Remeber that driving is a privilege not a right and some of these people need to have their privileges revoked.
David A. Porter says
I would like to thank Trooper Orem for his efforts involved in identifying not only the causes of serious motor vehicle accidents in our community, but also is efforts to prevent them from happening. In particular Trooper Orem cited a young lady driving in a negligent and reckless manner in the Aberdeen area for no less than seven violations, including leaving the scene of an accident, filing a false police report, and driving on a suspended license. Through your efforts, a malicious and irresponsible driver is being held accountable for their actions and will hopefully not contribute to any future accidents through their neglect. I know this person in particular – she totaled her brand new Chevrolet Equinox in May 2009 while text messaging into the back of a flatbed truck on Harford Road. Please be safe and keep us safe Trooper Orem.
Thank you for your kind words about Trooper Orem…I know him personally and I can say that he always goes above and beyond the call of duty. It is so nice to read positive things about our police officers instead of always hearing the negative comments. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families in yet another senseless accident on 543.
it’s weird how 543 is such a unlucky road, so sad for all the lives lost on it