CRUMPTON — The need for a solid red light at the notoriously treacherous intersection here was underscored last month when a 29-year-old Galena woman was killed and her three young children were injured in a two-vehicle crash.
The Nov. 6 crash at the state Routes 290 and 544 crossing, where a Hyundai Sonata and an International box truck collided, has spurred on the campaign to have the State Highway Administration replace the blinking red and yellow lights with a solid red light.
To bring attention to the dangerous intersection, Crumpton area residents Betty Schelts and Bonnie Larrimore will host what they are calling a “peaceful protest” there Sunday afternoon, Dec. 16.
They are urging the community to join them in a “Stop for Sam” demonstration.
Schelts and Larrimore will be holding up placards with a photograph of Samantha Coleman, the woman who was killed in last month’s crash.
They are bringing along extra posters and hope others who are concerned about safety will join them, from 1 to 3 p.m. on the grassy section off the side of routes 544 and 290.
Larrimore, who lives about a quarter-mile from the intersection on Route 544, said she joined the grassroots movement after “almost being hit multiple times by tractor-trailers … and seeing people run the light.”
Schelts has been pushing for a solid red light for nearly four years, ever since her husband was injured in a two-vehicle crash in January 2015. Charles Schelts’ vehicle was broadsided on the driver’s side door. He was lucky; his injuries were not life-threatening.
Since then rumble strips and a stationary red stop sign have been added, but Betty Schelts said she would not stop pressing for safety enhancements until there is a solid red traffic light.
Schelts, who lives on Dudley Corners Road (also known as Route 290), said her research shows there have been six fatal crashes at the intersection.
She started an online petition to change the blinking lights to a solid red light after the crash that killed Coleman. To date, she has gathered nearly 1,900 signatures and 13 pages of comments. See www.change.org/p/betty-schelts-change-is-needed-to-save-lives.
Schelts and Larrimore did not know one another until last month.
“I saw (on social media) that Betty wanted to know how to start an online petition. We started communicating back and forth, and one thing led to another and here we are. Teamwork,” Larrimore said Tuesday during an interview in the Kent County News office.
Sunday’s demonstration is only the beginning of what Schelts is expecting will be a protracted battle to get a solid red light at the intersection. She is cautiously optimistic that the Queen Anne’s County commissioners and the District 36 delegation to the Maryland General Assembly will be allies.
Schelts said Tuesday that she is hoping to be able to schedule a meeting with SHA representatives in January at the Crumpton firehouse, when community members could talk about their concerns.
Meantime, the investigation of last month’s fatal crash is continuing. As of press time Wednesday, no charges had been filed.
According to Maryland State Police, the crash occurred at about 6:30 a.m. Michael Addison Marston, 53, of Parkville was operating a 2015 International box truck and Coleman was operating a 2011 Sonata.
According to the preliminary investigation, Marston, after stopping at the intersection of westbound Route 544 and Route 290, attempted to make a left-hand turn onto southbound Route 290. Police reported that Marston failed to yield the right of way to Coleman, who was traveling northbound on Route 290.
Police said Coleman’s car collided with the left rear portion of the box truck and came to rest in a drainage ditch on the shoulder of Route 544.
Marston was able to pull the box truck to the shoulder of southbound Route 290, according to police.
Coleman’s three children were passengers in her car. Police listed their ages as 4, 9 and 12.
Coleman was transported by ambulance to Kent General Hospital, while the children were transported by ambulance to A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., according to police.
Coleman died Nov. 9. She was an organ donor, according to friends.
A GoFundMe account has been established to assist Coleman’s family. See www.gofundme.com/memory-of-samantha-coleman.