November 26, 2014

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Ohio woman’s injuries show cars’ vulnerability to rocks

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A rock-throwing attack that left an Ohio woman with serious injuries is a reminder of how vulnerable motorists are when someone decides to target random victims from a highway bridge or overpass.

As 52-year-old middle school language arts teacher Sharon Budd recovers at a central Pennsylvania hospital, some may be wondering whether they face the same risk — and the answer is yes.

PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said such attacks are rare, but the highway agency has begun evaluating the incident with state police to see if there’s some action they can take in response.

“In populated areas with sidewalks or in areas near playgrounds, interstate and expressway overpasses usually have fences,” Kirkpatrick said. “This incident happened in a rural area where there are no sidewalks, and we will have to determine the best way to deal with these senseless acts.”

Police said Budd was a passenger in a vehicle traveling on Interstate 80 near Milton, in the center of Pennsylvania, when four young men — two young boys and two brothers in their late teens — stopped on a bridge and two of them began throwing rocks at cars.

One of those rocks struck Budd and caused severe head injuries.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported Friday that she had 13 hours of facial reconstruction a day earlier and had lost the use of one eye. Her husband told the newspaper that surgeons had to remove a portion of her brain.

Randy Budd said an effort has already begun to fence in that section of overpass.

Police said they noticed a vehicle driving slowly past the scene twice, traced it to a nearby home and obtained confessions from the two young boys.

Brothers Dylan Lahr, 17, and Brett Lahr, 18, of New Columbia, have been charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy, throwing a missile at an occupied vehicle, reckless endangerment and possessing instruments of crime. Their lawyer, Bruce Manchester, said they deny the allegations.

“It simply becomes a question of fact, ultimately for the jury, who, if any, among the four — the Lahr brothers that have been charged and the other two young men that have not been charged — threw the boulder or boulders. Or rocks, however it’s been deemed,” Manchester said.

Rock-throwing incidents have occurred with some regularity across the United States.

Last month, a woman got glass in her eyes after a chunk of asphalt crashed through her windshield in Festus, Mo. About a dozen vehicles were damaged by rocks thrown onto Interstate 70 in Columbus, in March. In October, three kids were seen running off after several vehicles were struck in Buffalo. And in August, two boys were accused of throwing rocks off an Interstate 5 overpass in Woodburn, Ore.

Pennsylvania State Police do not collect data specifically on rock-throwing incidents, but they said the number of incidents involving assault by propulsion of a missile into an occupied vehicle or onto a roadway fell from 282 in 2011 to 229 in 2012 and to 213 last year.

 


  • luvmytoaster

    A 17 and 18 year old throwing rocks off of a bridge? Grow up already and begin your life as decent productive members of society. Well, it may be too late for that.

    I thought that they would find out that these punks were 13 or 14, not practically adults.

    Charge them as adults, and remember……don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time…..

  • golfingirl

    Stone them!

    • Phil Blank

      They probably all ready were.

  • Scout

    Oh this is such a terrible story…from the woman being injured to the young men who are responsible. What were they thinking?…I know all the the talk about not having a fully developed brain until 24 or so ( I took those psychology classes in college also) and to a certain extent I agree.
    However, that does not excuse these young people or the others that will be charged. There has got to be an appropriate punishment here that will go beyond their here and now.
    Hopefully this woman will recover and be able to improve and resume her activities as before.
    Such a sad story. Passing an overpass-LOOK UP if you can or can see.