Police: Debris hurled from overpass damages two cars in Schenectady

Posted at: 10/19/2013 2:08 AM | Updated at: 10/19/2013 2:49 AM
By: Steve Flamisch

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SCHENECTADY -- Julia Maxwell was driving on Interstate 890 West on Wednesday night when, out of the darkness, something came hurtling down from the Michigan Ave. overpass.

The "large, rock-like object" smashed into the windshield on the driver's side of the vehicle, Maxwell said. It did not break through the glass.

"I was not injured," Maxwell told NewsChannel 13 Friday. "I was very lucky. The windshield took the brunt of the impact."

Hers was one of two vehicles damaged by debris that night, but the person or persons responsible fled the area before officers arrived, police said. Without surveillance video or suspect descriptions, there were few leads in the case.

Maxwell, noting similar incidents on the highway in years past, called for the installation of cameras and the creation of a task force to address safety concerns. Maxwell said she and several of her friends would be glad to serve on it.

"When is enough enough?" she asked. "Who needs to be hurt in order for somebody to finally do something?"

FINDING SOLUTIONS

Mayor Gary McCarthy, in a text message to a NewsChannel 13 reporter early Saturday morning, said he would welcome Maxwell’s help.

Additonally, the mayor said it is possible to provide the surveillance coverage she requested.

"There are not any cameras on the bridge, but we have an extensive network of cameras that we expand each year," McCarthy said. "The camera network is a multi-year program across the city, based on available funding."

McCarthy said “fencing or other modifications” could stop people from throwing objects off the overpasses.

A state Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman said he would check with a regional engineer about the catch fences on the Michigan Ave. overpass.

A tall person can easily lob an object over the fences, or use the adjacent guard rail as a step stool.

“EXTREMELY DANGEROUS”

Schenectady Police Chief Brian Kilcullen acknowledged prior cases of people hurling rocks and other debris from the overpass. He warned that anyone caught doing so would be charged with criminal mischief.

The charges would be far more serious if the debris were to kill or injure anyone.

"It can be extremely dangerous and we certainly hope individuals who would even contemplate doing something like this would reconsider," Kilcullen said. "It's certainly illegal and potentially could inflict serious injury on someone."

Kilcullen said he was not aware of any recent cases in which people were injured by flying debris from an overpass.

In the end, Maxwell said she is taking a detour as a result of what happened to her car on Wednesday.

"(I am) definitely changing my routine for a while until I feel something has been done," she said. "Instead of taking 890, I'll be taking an alternate route home."



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