When Patricia Nazzal videotaped a congressional motorcade passing her car on Interstate 70, she ended up documenting a fatal crash just ahead of her.

Maryland State Police said one person was killed Wednesday morning in a four-vehicle crash as other motorists stopped for the motorcade on westbound I-70 at the ramp from northbound Interstate 270.

Police had not released the identity of the person who died as of late Wednesday night.

The motorcade was part of a trip by U.S. Senate Democrats to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where they gathered Wednesday for a retreat. Authorities did not say who was in the vehicles in the motorcade that was connected to the crash.

Nazzal, who lives in Frederick, said she pulled over on I-70 because she saw an officer on a motorcycle gesturing for traffic to move to the right. While she waited, she started videotaping because she thought the motorcade might include the president or someone else prominent.

Her videotape shows vehicles stopping short as they approach I-70 and crashing. It also shows the subsequent fiery scene and people tending to someone who was pulled from a vehicle in the crash.

She heard the pop-pop of explosions.

“It was like something you would see on a movie,” she said. “It was really scary.”

Emergency workers responded to the crash at about 9 a.m., state police said. Three dump trucks and a Nissan sport utility vehicle were involved. No vehicles from the motorcade were struck or damaged, said Lt. Wayne Wachsmuth, commander of the Maryland State Police barrack in Frederick.

State police said in a press release that two drivers of dump trucks — Shawn Gill, 46, of Gaithersburg, and Mark Tew, 27, of Hanover — were taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital. Another driver, Richard Aldar, 53, of Sykesville, refused treatment at the scene.

“There was a congressional motorcade coming up northbound 270, coming up the ramp here and merging onto westbound 70,” Wachsmuth said from the scene. “As they came up here, they blocked and stopped all traffic on westbound 70. Part of the motorcade made it through, but a dump truck came through and he interrupted the motorcade after striking a car.”

Police said in the press release that Aldar stopped in a lane on westbound I-70 because of the motorcade passing through. Tew stopped his truck, as did the driver of the Nissan SUV.

Gill’s truck slammed into the rear of the Nissan, causing all four vehicles to hit one another, the press release said. There was an explosion, and three vehicles caught fire. The dump truck in front, closest to the motorcade, was burned by the flames, Wachsmuth said.

Heavy fire and black smoke could be seen and two explosions were heard as far as a quarter-mile from the crash.

Eva Malecki, the communications director for the U.S. Capitol Police, said the motorcade was being escorted to Shepherdstown when the crash took place.

“No [U.S. Capitol Police] or motorcade vehicles were involved in the accident,” Malecki wrote in an email statement to The Frederick News-Post. “USCP officers, along with the Maryland State Police, stopped to render aid and assistance at the scene.”

Tim Zink, press secretary for Sen. Ben Cardin (D), confirmed that the lawmaker was present for a Senate Democratic retreat in Shepherdstown on Wednesday.

While both Cardin and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) traveled to the retreat, they drove in personal vehicles and were not part of the motorcade, according to a joint statement issued by Van Hollen’s and Cardin’s offices Wednesday afternoon.

“Our prayers and condolences go out to the families of the victims of the crash today,” the statement reads. “We are heartbroken that a traffic stop on a busy Maryland road ended in such a tragic way.”

Zink said the office read articles about the crash and “are all concerned,” but he didn’t have any information about the motorcade itself or any firsthand accounts from the senator.

The motorcade was being escorted by three Maryland State Police motorcycle units and a number of U.S. Capitol Police units, Wachsmuth said.

Nazzal said she one of the officers on a motorcycle gestured with his arm for traffic to move to the side, so she pulled over. The officer made the same gesture to traffic entering I-70, she said.

At least two buses and several SUVs were part of the motorcade, said Ed Delaney, an Olney resident who was driving behind the procession on his way to work when the crash happened.

“At first, I was thinking the motorcade was involved, but when I got a closer look, I actually saw what looked like one of the dump trucks — it looked like it was on its side at first,” Delaney said, adding that at least one of the buses in the motorcade was stuck behind the crash for about 45 minutes before police let it through.

The crash and investigation caused heavy traffic around Frederick, including steady lines of traffic on Patrick Street through downtown, as drivers looked to find a way around the closure. Lanes were closed for about seven hours, police said.

The stretch of I-70 where the crash occurred handles from 83,442 to 96,260 vehicles on a typical day, according to the State Highway Administration.

Traffic was complicated by having to detour truck traffic onto U.S. 15, already a busy commuter road, SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said

“As you can imagine, we had some pretty long queues,” he said.

Staff writers Danielle E. Gaines, Kelsi Loos, Ryan Marshall and Andrew Schotz contributed to this report.

(145) comments

Moon otter

As I said before folks are driving way over the speed limit for our roads. Some are posted 55 others 65+. Accidents are continuing to increase. What does the book say as a driver you must be aware of all surroundings. So if traffic slows down you slow down, if it comes to a stop you must stop. Driver must have vehicle under control at all times. Why just the other day we saw a propane truck almost go through an lighted intersection. He was in the intersection and it was a good thing no one was else was in the intersection. It is time to go back to 55 all over.

mrnatural1

There is plenty of blame to go around, that's for sure.

The accident was not entirely the fault of the motorcade and its escorts. The dump truck driver failed to maintain control.

As drivers, we all know that we should be ready to come to an abrupt stop at any time, for any number of reasons:

* Animals in the roadway
* Blowouts
* Accidents
* Debris in the road
* Something incredibly interesting -- like a fuzzy bunny in the median -- causing drivers to slow and then stop

Of course, those things all have something in common -- they are unplanned, and often unavoidable.

This motorcade shutting down I-70 was both planned and avoidable. So while the dump truck driver is also at fault, the fact is that this accident did not have to happen. The motorcade did not require I-70 to be shut down. It could have simply continued up US 15 to the US 340 exit. Why they did not is a good question that deserves to be answered.

As for the speed limit, most Interstates are under-posted. That's according to established civil engineering principles, and something called the the 85th percentile speed. That is the speed that 85% of drivers would travel at or below, in free-flowing traffic in good conditions, with no threat of enforcement. See: https://www.motorists.org/issues/speed-limits/position/ and https://www.motorists.org/issues/speed-limits/faq/

That means that some sections of Interstate -- like I-68 through Cumberland -- might be posted at 40 mph, while other sections -- like I-94 through ND and MT -- might be posted at 85-90 mph or higher.

Specific numbers aside, there is no single speed limit that is appropriate for all Interstates all over the country. In fact, the appropriate limit for any specific stretch of road might vary from 5 mph to 90+ mph, depending upon the weather, road, and traffic conditions.

The answer is not to lower speed limits all across the country. The answer is proper driver education and training. Germany has the right idea. They do not just hand out licenses like we do here. Drivers must complete extensive (and expensive) training. The German police are very strict when it comes to DWI and speeding, but Germany still has sections of their "Autobahn" that have no limit. Yet, even with motorists routinely traveling over 150 mph, and sometimes as fast as 200+ mph, their fatality rate is approximately the same as ours.

More training is the correct response to accidents like this one -- not reverting to the lowest common denominator. We need to raise the bar for acquiring and retaining a license.

Dennis72

Another tragic example of incompetent law enforcement. How do you say reckless endangerment? Why are Capital police there? They need to stay at the Capital and do their job there. Do they even have jurisdiction on Maryland highways? All this for a bunch of politicians. The DOJ and NTSB need to investigate. Whoever was nominally in charge of that fiasco should be strung up for incompetence.

petersamuel

This illustrates the danger when the cops managing a motorcade intervene to force traffic to suddenly move over or stop. There was absolutely no need for this motorcade, except to stroke the egos of arrogant congressmen. Let them travel normally without police escorts like the rest of us. The police have more important things to do than saving five minutes of their travel time.

mrnatural1

chesapeakecountry is correct.

Motorcades for elected officials (aside from the president) cannot be justified and must end immediately.

* They are a threat to public safety.

* Are an inconvenience at best. Roadblocks may prevent people from getting to the hospital in time.

* Roadblocks create situations where some people drive on the shoulder, other drivers pull onto the shoulder to block them, and before long the entire highway is obstructed and emergency equipment cannot get through.

* As chesapeakecountry pointed out, motorcades allow elected officials to minimize their exposure to the traffic congestion that their constituents experience.

As for the safety of the officials, it would seem to be safer for them not to draw attention to themselves -- to simply travel in a nondescript large SUV with any appropriate modifications and personnel.

mrnatural1

Some have questioned whether the motorcade escort officers attempted to stop traffic on I-70.

From the article:

“There was a congressional motorcade coming up northbound 270, coming up the ramp here and merging onto westbound 70,” Wachsmuth said from the scene. “As they came up here, they blocked and stopped all traffic on westbound 70. Part of the motorcade made it through, but a dump truck came through and he interrupted the motorcade after striking a car.”

KellyAlzan

👍🏻💪👍🏻💪

teapartier

To avoid any impropriety MSP investigating MSP and Capitol Police. Why not get the Feds involved. Let the TSB Transportation Safety Board take the lead and do the investigation or another outside agency. Maybe it's time for Congress, Secret Service and Police agencies to revisit thier motorcade protocols.

chesapeakecountry

It's time to end special treatment/motorcades for elected officials. Not only is it dangerous but it prevents them from experiencing the actual driving conditions on the roads for which they refuse to fund upgrades.

threecents

There should be an investigation by police - not by congress - to determine how to prevent these things from happening again. How about next time just take a couple of nice buses? Obviously it should have been planned so that the motorcade was not entering I-70 during rush hour. I would like to know if the dang retreat went on as scheduled and why they felt it necessary to have it outside DC. Is anyone taking responsibility or at least showing respect to the victims and their families?!

i heart frederick

If you go on google and type DC to Shepherdstown, you'll see they followed the directions to go 270 to 70 to 340. Anyone with a brain knows that's completely unsafe even for just a little car. But clearly, Google does not know better. This could've been much much worse. I'd imagine the motorcade bus drivers feel terrible, too.

LizardS

Why would 270 to 70 to 340 be an unsafe route to Shepherdstown?

KellyAlzan

Its not unsafe, unless you bring interstate traffic driving at interstate speeds to a halt without any warning after you suddenly appear from an adjoining pathway

Fredmd21704

I can't help but to wonder if these arm chair lawyers and judges actually get paid.

shiftless88

One thing that isn't discussed here: Did the police intend to actually halt traffic on I-70? It appears that the cars on 70 saw the police merging and stopped on their own when they could have slowed and pulled to the side (like the person in the video did while on the ramp). Yes this was poorly done but still it is not at all clear that the police were actually intending to stop traffic on I-70.

KellyAlzan

If the motorcade was taking I-70 up to Rt 65 at Boonsboro - then the motorcade could have simple merged onto I-70 without disrupting traffic flow.

If the motorcade was using I-70 west to get off of the westbounf 340 exit - they would have had to cross (3) lanes of traffic to get in the far right lane. Which to me, explains why westbound traffic was brought to a sudden halt.

I'd like to hear which route they took to Shepherdstown.

For a motorcade, that stops traffic, assuming they were taking 340 west - they should have gotten Rt 15 at the Jefferson St exit and entered 340 that way. It would have been much safer for a motorcade and lower risk of danger to other motorists. Hopefully the motorcade officers are reading this for future reference

shiftless88

Again, no where does this story explicitly state that the police purposely blockaded I-70. It appears to me what happened is that the first trucks stopped in their lanes rather than pulling to the side. Actually blockading the road would have required people either on I-70 before that merge or police actually stopping on I-70 at the merge. It isn't clear to me that they actually meant for cars to stop in their lanes rather than slow and pull to the side (which is typically what people do when police have their lights on).

shiftless88

I'm wrong twice in the same thread! I will shut up now.

Fredmd21704

the story states that the police were telling people to stay in the right lane, so the motorcade could travel the left lane, This is what happens when Kelly doesn't read.

KellyAlzan

Correct Fred, police WERE pushing people to the right. That was never in question, and the video even reflects. That was on the exit ramp that brings you off of I-270 where the police were pushing people to the right.

Fredmd21704

"If the motorcade was using I-70 west to get off of the westbounf 340 exit -" sorry, but if you are coming up route 270, to get on Route 340, you take the exit for it at Jefferson street, you do not get on route 70, then dart across 3 lanes of traffic. If you watch the video, clearly you haven't, it doesn't show them doing that.

KellyAlzan

I just watched the video again Fredmd. On a laptop, not a cell phone.

You can not distinictively see the motorcade on I-70. I see vehicles on I-70, but they are too far away to know if they are motorcade vehicles or not, and the video is shot from too far to tell what lanes any of the vehicles are in.

I never said the vehicles crossed 3 lanes of traffic. Go back and read what I wrote. Read it slowly word from word out loud.

KellyAlzan

And yes, to get onto the ramp to enter 340, from I-270 north, utilizing the I-70W exit, YOU DO HAVE TO GO ACROSS 3 LANES. "Dart"? That would depend on the time of day. Friday evening at 5:30 - no darting, traffic is like 10 MPH. Friday afternoon at 2:20 - traffic is brisk - you may have to dart. Saturday night at 10 pm - light traffic, you can practically crawl across.

I know that road well, been doing it at least 3 times a week for the last 13 years

threecents

I hate to say it, but it looks like Kelly got it exactly right.

KellyAlzan

I just watched the video for the 5th time.

There is a science to what happened.

1) See, the lady filming is on the exit ramp coming off of I-270 north onto I-70 West. She is not in I-7- yet, as I believe the FNP reports.

2) The traffic on this exit ramp is in the path of the motorcade. They were able to see the flashing lights in their mirrors as the motorcade approached.

3) They had opportunity to HEAR the sirens approaching from behind as the motorcade approached.

4) Items 2 and 3 are most likely what prompted the video filmer to pull over. In other words, she, and others on that ramp - had warning.

5) The traffic on I-70 was driving along, just a routine drive, like most of them have done daily on that portion of road.

6) You can see the traffic already on westbound I-70 abruptly stopping. You can not see the first dump truck till about 1.5 seconds after impact.

7) The first truck may have been stopped, not completely stopped, we don't know. Also, the first truck may have stopped and may have missed hitting the vehicle in front by mere inches. I know that I myself have come I'm guessing to 3 to 6 inches from ramming the vehicle in front of me subsequent of abrupt stops.

8) Motorcade officers clearly did not use due care in entering onto INTERSTATE 70.

Whatsup

Thank you Kelly for the breakdown. I would like to comment on your disclosure in #7. Your own statement of almost "ramming" someone should be a indicator to you that you yourself should not be allowing any distractions while driving as you have previously attempted to argue that it was ok for you to use a cell phone while driving.

KellyAlzan

You're not even close. I could respond with facts to back up how off base you are, but that just distracts from the incident at hand. This incident is not about me.

I own a construction company with large trucks. When fully loaded - they are heavy. Heavy trucks require distance to stop. This scientific fact was the same in the 1970's long before cell phones came out, and has not changed today. My mention of coming inches from hitting someone in front of me was referencing my operating our large, heavy, bulky, company trucks. Driving along, got the throttle down, using the gears to pull the truck up to speed (meaning building momentum), then all of a sudden a vehicle halts right in front of you. You're then literally standing on the brake pedal trying to get stopped.

Motorcade officers out of the blue abruptly stopping heavy trucks rolling down/up the interstate is just asking for bad ending.

teapartier

Kellyalzan,

I’m intrigued by your stanch defense of the Truck Driver. So let’s play armchair lawyer. My thinking that a lawsuit will eventually materialize from this tragic accident. SO my questions for the Truck Drivers company or owner.

I would like current and past DOT inspection records for the vehicle
I would like all past and current CDL license documentation for the Driver.
I would like doctors or physician assistant name who signed CDL medical card.
I would all records of vehicle and driver according to the FMCSA-Federal Motor Carries safety administration
I would like all electronic devices devices found on the operator or in Cab of vehicle
I would like all cellphone records of operators’ cellphone (if applicable) for the day in question
I would like the record of DOT inspection of the vehicle as found on accident scene.
I would like past and current and immediately after accident, Drug test history of operator.
I would like all videos from other motorist.
I would like the vehicle on board data recorder if applicable.

And that’s just to start. Not including the MSP accident reconstruction report which most or all items will be included.

After this we will focus on the motorcade.

KellyAlzan

Not sure what you're getting at. Everything you mentioned is all par for the course. Routine. Anyone that owns trucks knows exactly the drill.

And as far as anything DOT related, its nearly impossible to operate a truck in Frederick county without random routine dot inspections multiple times per year. And that's not even factoring in crossing the scales multiple times per day as the gravel haulers do. and for the record, I have no idea what the trucks are used for, I just know they're dump trucks, and aggregate is a huge industry in the area, which is why I mention multiple passes through the scales on a daily basis.

teapartier

Exactly, hopefully the owners/drivers paperwork was legal and detailed and the inspections report comes back with no red marks. If the truck and or driver are found to be in violation, it opens a brand new chapter.

Rockfish

Geez, you seem to be such an expert at accident re-construction. I wonder why the experts at the local level and state level haven't hired you! Why, because you make judgements without all the facts. Did you interview witnesses and the drivers involved? Let the professionals, FCS, MSP, MSHA, etc. do their job, they are the ones with all the facts!

teapartier

That's what I'm saying let the professionals handle it everyone here is an expect. Iam not To us armchair observersers it's all speculation. Those items are found in the CDL drivers handbook.

KellyAlzan

merely responding to some inaccurate posts here.

duffy5x

He fancies himself an expert at everything. He's wrong.

KellyAlzan

Motorcade coming off of 270. Unexpectedly halting traffic on i70. No warning devices on i70 announcing to be prepared to stop.

Motorcade officials fouled up and bear responsibility. You can't just halt traffic on a freeway like that.

Fredmd21704

stop placing blame on the motorcade. Do you place blame on ambulances and fire trucks too because people didn't pay attention while driving? NO ONE HALTED TRAFFIC, it even says so in the article.

KellyAlzan

Traffic came to a halt. Not sure what news story you're reading?

bcraig4321

Police high speed pursuit chases are called off because they endanger the public and drivers on the road....the criminal is allowed to get away (probably a good choice in interest of safety)

High speed motorcades with light and sirens that endanger the public and every driver on the road go for miles so "important people" can get places fast...why is this permitted again????, I think every congressional member on that bus should answer and so should the US Capitol Police idiots.

i heart frederick

Agree 100%

KellyAlzan

Just as I thought. The first trucks were able to stop as they were at the front and had full visibility. The way way the 1st truck rolled forward tells me it wasn't fully loaded or was empty, making it easy for him to stop. The third truck wasn't aware traffic was stopped as he could not see ahead with trucks in front of him blocking the view. 3rd truck fully loaded while gaining speed.

Not a good place to halt traffic like this at that hour.

newspostreader

I completely agree. Everyone wants to blame the dump truck driver. We have no idea what was happening in his truck. A loaded truck is NOT easy to stop. You can see one of those very first cars have a hard time stopping. If you listen, you can hear one of those first cars brakes squealing. They had no warning traffic was going to stop.

bcraig4321

The idiotic police or other officials who stopped traffic should resign and be charged. Notice the school bus at the top of the video that got lucky and probably missed this by literally one second? I see other cars struggling to stop. Congressional members in that bus probably escaped harm by literally one second as well. A dump truck does not stop on a dime.

Most law enforcement, highway workers, fire/ems, tow, etc will tell you they are now trained to assume drivers are not paying attention and to use extreme caution. Whoever tried to bring 65 mph traffic to a standstill should be charged with a crime. They were extremely lucky just one person died here with their ludicrous acts...the school bus or bus full of senators missed being involved by seconds or less.

JeanieLagrave

That section of highway, where I-270 and I-70 West meet is the most dangerous and stupidly designed highway to start with. I traveled that road for years, and trying to get from the bridge and merging to get to a west bound off ramp was nearly impossible, especially at rush hour. It is very obvious some one wasn't paying attention, but this is a major highway for through traffic, and I'm sure drivers were not expecting to have to stop in the middle of a highway for a motorcade. It's just something totally unexpected. It's sad that some one had to lose their life and thoughts and prayers go out for the family of that person and for the injured.

KellyAlzan

Well said.

i heart frederick

Agree, and beyond that, the comment that they should've gotten off at Jefferson St to get on 340 was spot on.

jwhamann

I tried to watch that video, but the shooter couldn't hold the camera steady. It was shot vertically instead of horizontally so most of the time all you could see was the road and the dashboard.

CDReid

I take it you noticed that comments for that video were disabled. All I wrote was that TV screens are horizontal, movie theater screens are horizontal, computer screens are horizontal, etc. so why anyone would record holding vertically is beyond me. I'm curious to know what rule that violated.

jwhamann

That's why I re-wrote here. There's been enough Monday morning quarterbacking on this wreck. Everything has been said about it. It's no big deal to criticize the video. I also criticized the reporter's writing telling the reader the footage had been 'videotaped' when smart phones do not have videotape in them.

Eddie2

One person dies and all you can dwell on is proper camera alignment??????????

newspostreader

Nothing better to complain about? The crash sound you heard was someone's life ending and you're going to complain about the camera behind held incorrectly?

Comment deleted.
newspostreader

My response was to JW. It's not indented under your post. Either way, it doesn't matter. My point remains the same for both.

Fredmd21704

"Nazzal, who lives in Frederick, said she pulled over on I-70 because she saw an officer on a motorcycle gesturing for traffic to move to the right." for those who cannot read.

dabittle

Two points: 1.) Why, pray tell, did these elected officials have a motorcade in the first place? They don't need it that kind of protection, they're not traveling through a third-world country on some dangerous interstate. 2.) Stopping all traffic on a major interstate (I70) to allow for the interrupted passage of a bus load of politicians was a very poor decision, one that calls into question the the very judgement of whoever made such a decision--someone should be fired! So, get ready, those injured will be getting, understandably, all lawyered up to come after whoever was in charge of this U.S. Government debacle.

Eddie2

I'll bet you were late to your govt. job?

dabittle

Nope, nice try though. In fact, I wasn't caught-up in the traffic! And, for what it's worth, I don't work for the government, I'm in the private sector--you know, it's where all the $$ comes from to pay for all of our do-nothing government bureaucrats and politicians. Perhaps your one of those?

duffy5x

You know that government employees don't work, how? Oh right, you don't. You just spout ignorance and feign superiority.

MMFNP

I certainly hope charges are filed where appropriate and prosecuted aggressively. This was an avoidable accident and death. I also hope FNP will continue to followup on this and let us all know what transpires legally and with possible changes to traffic flow and control.

Cheesecracker23

Would anyone have even known these were people in congress/senate without the motorcade? You really only need one lane to escort a motorcade, you don't have to shut down the highway and create havoc in the process. Praying for this persons family and friends that was lost due to this shutdown as well as the truck driver.

KellyAlzan

Not in this case. If they took 340 to 67 they would have needed to cross 3 lanes of I70 at once to exit onto 340. Not sure if the news story states what route they took.

If they did take 340, they should have stayed on 270 and exited at the Jefferson street exit and turned left and accessed 340 that way.

shiftless88

There is no exit from 270/15 to southbound 340/15. I drive that several times per week; if you are taking 340 south you have to exit 270 then cross 70 to get to the exit.

shiftless88

I am incorrect in this; I didn't realize you could turn left at the Jefferson street exit

Fredmd21704

well here ya go, someone who thinks they know which way they would be going, first off, when you come up route 270, you take the jefferson st exit to get onto 340, if they were going up the 70 exit ramp, that tells a person with half a brain that they were going to take route 70 up to maybe 40 alt exit or even the Sharpsburg exit, no one even with a tiny brain would take the 70 exit ramp then dart over to route 340.

i heart frederick

People from DC don't know. Google directions from DC to Shepherdstown says to go that way (70 West to 340 South after exiting 270. They were just following Google since they didn't know the area. That's a problem in itself.

Moon otter

Maybe it is time to put the speed limit back to where it was at 55. Ever since they have risen it to 65+ we are going to have these type of accidents. There are more accidents than ever.

sofanna

The speed limit through this section of highway IS 55 mph. The 65 mph speed limit doesn't start until after the merge and access to which ever highway you intend to travel. VERY dangerous place.

DisabledFrederickVeteran

These Senatorial slimebalms should have been loaded onto helicopters and brought to WV as to not endangered public safety.

stxn

When this motorcade passed me below Urbana, the motorcycle officers at the front were spread noticeably much farther apart than I'm used to seeing them; it wasn't even initially apparent that they were leading a motorcade until the SUVs and buses finally came into view. Expecting interstate traffic to safely stop at those speeds, with someone waving a hand as the only visual signal, is beyond ridiculous. I have great respect for law enforcement, but whatever policy allows that needs to be changed. I noticed Capital Police near the front but don't remember which agency was in the lead. If Capitol Police were leading, maybe they're unfamiliar with that particular merge area and were caught off-guard, but they couldn't have missed the fact that they were merging onto another highway. It's heartbreaking and horrifying to realize that someone lost their life and was powerless to avoid the impact in a completely preventable situation. As others have said here, highway traffic should never be brought to a standstill without appropriate warning devices posted far ahead of the stop. In this case, an electronic sign exists just a few miles west on I-70W and could have easily been used, along with a couple of cruisers, to safely slow traffic, or the senators could have taken the train most of the way and allowed the regular vehicular traffic to proceed without any interruptions or fatalities. My condolences and prayers to all of the involved drivers and their families.

stevemckay

Well said

WangoTango

[thumbup]

KellyAlzan

hit the nail on the head.

And just a hand wave is unacceptable.

Being a life long resident of Frederick, I have witnessed at least 3 other motorcades over the years. They drive fast. They don't yield. They don't slow down. And to exit from I270 north onto I70 west - you can not do that.

duffy5x

Three whole motorcades...wow.

mrnatural1

jsklinelga asked whether there was 'selective reporting' of this accident, and wonders how many things go unreported.

I worked for Metrorail for 27 years. During the time I was there, there were numerous derailments in the train yards. Most of them were never reported. The rationalization was that there were no passengers on board. True, but a derailment anywhere is serious and an indication something is wrong -- sleep deprivation, lack of training, impairment.

On my way home from work one night at about 11:30 pm, on westbound I-70 approaching exit 49 (Middletown/Braddock Heights) I saw about a dozen police cruisers on the right hand shoulder. My initial thought was that there had been a chase and/or drug bust. As I got closer I realized there were no civilian vehicles on the shoulder, just cop cars. Then I noticed a car upside down in the ditch. As I got closer I saw it was a marked MSP cruiser that had flipped over! It was a bit difficult to see with all of the police vehicles lined up nose-to-tail, forming a partial visual barrier, but it was definitely a marked cruiser.

On the scanner I heard them decline an ambulance, so fortunately the driver (presumably a trooper) was OK.

That section of westbound I-70, about 3/4 mile east of exit 49, curves to the right -- which means a driver losing control would typically end up in the median or over on the eastbound side, not in the ditch to their right, on the westbound side. That seemed odd.

I naively assumed that incident would make the FNP the next day. Nope. Not a word. I spoke with the editor of the paper about it. Initially he seemed interested, until I mentioned that the vehicle involved was a MSP cruiser. At that point he said that he was not going to touch it.

I imagine that happens quite a bit -- stories that might embarrass certain agencies or departments get spiked. It will be interesting to see how much coverage this accident gets.

stxn

Your reasoning on why that overturned vehicle wasn't in the news makes sense, and my curiosity would have been pretty high after witnessing the scene that you saw. Regarding the vehicle ending up on the right side of the road on a right-hand curve, that's actually where cars going into a skid will usually end up. It has something to do with the vehicle's rotation as the rear wheels lose traction. If you look at cloverleaf-style exit ramps, you can see that the only section of the guardrail, or the area with the most damage, is around the curve and to the right. It doesn't seem logical, but the front wheels serve as a type of anchor (they're already pointed towards the right) and the vehicle weight swings the back around and off the road at that location.

mrnatural1

I did see the phenomenon you described on a narrow California mountain road. The road was cut out of a sheer rock mountain -- no shoulders, no guardrails, drop-offs of hundreds of feet. We rounded a curve (left-hand from our direction, mountain on our left) and there was a Lotus nose first into the mountain, with the rear end close to the double yellow line.

The driver had gone into (what was for him) a right hand turn too fast, and luckily for him, the Lotus behaved as you described. He and his buddy cheated death that day, because he just as easily could have shot off the edge and down into the ravine hundreds of feet below.

So while I agree that what you described certainly can happen, it really depends on the circumstances -- vehicle, driver, road conditions. In slick conditions it's all but guaranteed the vehicle will slide to the outside of the curve.

On the night in question, conditions were good (clear, dry), so it may have happened the way you suggest. In order for a vehicle (esp. an MSP cruiser) to oversteer on that moderate curve it would have to be flying -- well over 110-120 mph.

KellyAlzan

Few weeks ago I saw what appeared to be a police chase in Frederick. At least 15 police cars. Never a word about what was happening in the FNP. Did the subject get away and embarrassed the police?

jsklinelga

I agree with one comment, we are armchair observers or detectives. And this was tragic, very tragic. But there is a symbolism here. I watched several national news stations and saw no mention of the accident. WHAG in Hagerstown only said the accident occurred near the motorcade, not that it was cause of the motorcade.

Several thoughts came to mind. One: Was this selective news reporting? How many things go unreported. The other thought was symbolic concerning healthcare. Are our representatives so elite and special that they will always travel free of the congestion and hindrances that we face day to day? (By politicizing this I mean no disrespect to the family that suffered this tragedy. Nothing can bring back that life. They have all our sympathy.) Maybe a picture of the deceased, the accident and letters from the people stuck for hours should be sent to all the Senators and congressman to remind them of their supposed "true" place in our society.

FNP-reader

Seems to me the blame goes to the Speeding Dump Truck driver whose excessive speed caused the accident NOT the motorcade.

LMRosenberg

I saw the motorcade, though it didn't look like a motorcade but ooked like a bunch of police on a high speed chase. They were driving at a very high rate of speed. It was a poor attempt of a few state troopers on motorcycles to stop traffic in a busy merge area. Is it necesssry to stop traffic for a confressional bus?

newspostreader

I'm curious, how did you get access to the investigation records to know that the dump truck was speeding? Oh, that's right. You didn't. You're assuming. Until you've driven something with a heavy load and understand that you can't stop on a dime, you shouldn't pass judgement.

KellyAlzan

I see no evidence of a speeding truck. You can't even see a truck until after the impact

shiftless88

By definition if you cannot stop in time to prevent hitting the person in front of you who has come to a stop, you are driving too fast for conditions.

Fredmd21704

so this tells me that you weren't there, i rest my case on your arm chair lawyer, can't wait for you to be an arm chair judge!

sheree4175

Unless there is some absolute emergency there is no other adequate excuse to close a highway. A lunch, a retreat, a vacation is not an adequate excuse. it is also not an adequate reason for someone to lose their life. Politicians have a high opinion of themselves, but they are public servants, who were on their way to lunch, paid for no doubt by us and with an innocent persons life. Buses and police escorts, again probably paid for by us and with some innocent person's life. That part of the highway is dangerous in moderate traffic, much less morning or evening rush hour traffic. It was just over a month ago that someone was killed on the opposite side of that highway, so to close it off to get someone to their lunch is a little ludicrous. It was bad luck that two dump trucks were in the front of the cutoff, which no doubt blocked the third one from seeing what was going on in front of him. Should the dump truck driver have been a little further from the traffic in front of him? Absolutely, but at 65 miles an hour carrying a load when traffic stops dead in front of you is a little hard to navigate. I have seen cars on 270 come to an absolute stop where the roads are two lanes, and cars end up lining the shoulder of the road and the inside the median strip so that it looks like there were 4 lanes. So please, think about the root cause before you blame some poor guy who was trying to do his job while some other people were trying to have a retreat, at the working people's expense.

jushas85

Yes an innocent person lost there life today but we cannot blame all dump trucks. A dump truck may have been at fault today but the motorcade was to blame also. You would think that there would have been a notification on road closures. I'm not taking any sides but it seems whenever there is an accident with a truck involved everyone is quick to blame the trucks. They forget about the drivers who cut off the trucks and then slam on the brakes, the drivers who think they can beat the trucks just to get one car length ahead of someone and the ones that weave in and out of traffic. One thing everyone must think about if it wasn't for dump trucks, tractor trailers, box trucks etc. we all would have nothing. Everything gets delievered to your house and stores by trucks.

FNP-reader

In this particular case the video clearly shows that the cause of the accident is a dump truck clearly going too fast.

newspostreader

It does not! You can't even see the accident until after it happens. The dump truck you see might not even be the one that caused it. It could have been one of the other two.

KellyAlzan

It's an interstate. Speed limit is at least 55 there. What speed do you have the driver clocked at?

KellyAlzan

And you're wrong. The video does not at all show the dump trucks UNTIL ABOUT 1.5 SECONDS AFTER THE IMPACT.

Those trucks were on I-70. I'm guessing coming from the quarry on south street.

The motorcade was exiting 270. Just butting infront of traffic on I70.

ctantiques

Dump Truck Drivers in this county have been a menace on the roads for years and most likely always will be.

mrnatural1

Kelly Alzan, ramsey, jgrose, and OldJay have the right idea.

There are only a few legitimate reasons to shut down a US Interstate highway:

* Serious accident

* Construction (ie, setting steel beams for an overpass)

* Severe weather -- flooding, black ice, etc

* Catastrophic events -- sink holes, collapsed bridge, etc

Motorcades, funeral processions, motorcycle rides (no matter how worthy the cause), and parades do not warrant shutting down an Interstate.

If a motorcade cannot stay together with the help of lights & sirens then the officers/agents need more training.

Any time traffic is stopped, lives are at risk and sometimes lost. There might be one or more people having a medical emergency, or attempting to transport someone who is ill/injured. Pregnant women. People trying to get to the hospital because a loved one is dying.

The bottom line is, this accident did not have to happen. Someone is dead -- in part because some politicians apparently feel too entitled, and/or because the cops escorting them were acting like cowboys. They decided to shut down I-70 at a busy interchange because...why again? So their little group could stay together? Again, with emergency equipment it should be easy for the escort vehicles to keep up. If someone cuts them off all they have to do is light 'em up -- problem solved.

We all deserve an explanation and a firm commitment that those involved will NEVER do this again -- at least not without MSP and/or FredCo Sheriff's Dept assistance.

Oh, and here's an idea -- how about having 'retreats' closer to D.C.?

stevemckay

I totally agree. The dump truck driver may or may not have been driving well, but it was police escort for the motorcade that created a very dangerous situation on a challenging stretch of highway, and the death is on their hands. That is a tough piece of road in normal circumstances - a highway merge on the left, at the crest of a overpass, on a curve, with looming exits on the right. They had no business trying to block it off on the fly like that. And for what? So some Congressmen that think themselves royalty can go off on a weekend retreat. That's garbage and I feel so badly for the victim of their arrogance.

WangoTango

[thumbup]

sofanna

A lot of drivers drive too fast, change lanes without signaling, trucks of all types, some spewing the load on every driver behind them, tailgating and sometimes you cannot move out of there way. I'd like to see more law enforcement on I-270 all day long, sporadically for a month to catch the drivers who are out of control. Maryland could make a whole lot of money for roads if there were fines for texting and talking on cell phones while driving, writing tickets for all other broken driving laws. As long as the laws are not enforced, carelessness on the roads and highways will continue.

Tigerzord

[thumbup][thumbup]

KellyAlzan

Why on earth are they stopping morning rush but traffic on a major interstate at that hour of the morning at a poorly designed stretch of
Road?

teapartier

Lets not politicize this. Motorcades in and around the Wash. Metro. area which Frederick county is located are common. The Congressional members were being escorted by two separate police agencies well trained in the art of motorcade travel. Preliminary, it looks like this tragic accident was caused by the failure of a driver to pay proper time and attention to the vehicle, surroundings and changing road conditions. It's in the Maryland State and the rest of the 49 states drivers' handbook on what to do when being approached by on-coming emergency vehicles.

jmoparrott

Well let's not deflect this either. The root cause of this fatal accident is the motorcade. They aren't common either, I've never seen one in my 3.5 years in Frederick. I'm horrified and upset about this because that is the exact time of day and place that my wife transports my disabled son to his day program everyday. Let Congress people deal with the traffic like the rest of us, maybe then they'll do something about it.

KellyAlzan

You're right about the root cause. And stopping morning rush hour traffic on a freakin INTERSTATE highway is just foolish.

teapartier

jmoparrott,
If you want to go tit-for tat, I was born in DC and have lived in DC, Mont Co & Frederick Co for over 65 years. And I have seen countless motorcades. By this article it appears that Truck Driver not paying full time and attention was at fault. I will wait to see the State Police Accident Reconstruction Investigation report and let professionals, not us arm-chair detectives determine a "root cause".

rquerry

I don't think closing a road is justified for a single member of Congress, but for a substantial number of members of Congress, as this was - it seems justified. Why there were no signs set up to warn people as they were coming upon the closure at 70 mph is inexcusable.

sheree4175

Agreed.

movindirt

Regardless of traffic being stopped/blocked due to motorcade or traffic accident....the Dump Truck was not paying attention/distracted and rear ended an innocent traffic abiding motorist. :(

newspostreader

Have you ever driven a loaded dump truck? They don't stop on a dime.

Ctsatruckin

I do drive both dump and tractor. As a driver who took a valid commercial driving course for 7 weeks, I was taught to keep ur eyes on the road. The driver in this case was going way to fast and obviously not paying attention to break lights causing a death and injuries. I pray for all involved. But this driver is going to face a lot of consequences and may even loose cdl!

Tigerzord

or be committed of vehicular manslaughter

KellyAlzan

Based on the screen name 'movindirt', pretty sure he / she has a pretty good idea about trucking......

KellyAlzan

So many things that can happen. That's a very busy spot on I-70. Three different things go there. Traffic merging from northbound 270. Traffic exiting onto 270 south. Traffic coming off of 270 north then crossing 3 lanes at once to get onto 340 west. It's poor engineering.

And I-70 east when you exit from 15 south, get on I-70 eAst, then exit to get onto 355 is even worse in the mornings, especially at sunrise. SwitchIng 3 lanes at once, watching in all directions at once. It's a disaster.

sheree4175

Yes, the only thing worse than that part of the highway (which has such poor visibility when coming up the ramp) is 70E with the sun in your eyes at sunrise or 70W with the sun in your eyes at sunset. I totally agree. Scares me every year when time changes.

sheree4175

I hope you never come up that ramp to find people at a dead stop in front of you with no notice, as you cannot see far enough in front of you there to be able to stop, and there is no where to go when you do see it.

ramsey

No one should stop traffic on a busy(High Speed) highway without the proper signage and flashing warning signs etc. Whomever decided to stop traffic is criminally responsible for the person's unnecessary death. Someone should be in jail.

Hayduke2

I am guessing this motorcade probably had a police escort complete with flashing lights - that remains to be seen but I'm sure more detail will come out.

threecents

What congressional motorcade would require I-70 being shutdown in Frederick during rush hour?? I was stuck for an hour in the that traffic jam but was horrified to read afterward that someone died and that it was because of some congressmen. Why did they need I-70 all to themselves?

Laura Z

I am horrified by this crash. This is my route every morning. I drive from Hagerstown to Frederick and back between 7:15am and 9am every week day. Truck traffic has been getting worse for months, and as mentioned, dump trucks are always a hazard, especially in this particular area. Semis have been driving aggressively lately, failing to follow posted signs, driving in clumps of three that purposely block traffic, and generally acting as if the cars were not there. Car traffic is bumper to bumper from 6:30am - 8:30am and has been for years. I hate this drive intensely. But what I hate most is that there is still NO plan to widen 70 to Hagerstown or 270.

What I want to know is where were the police on 70? As the motorcade came up 270 the police should have come from the east on 70 and had cars with flashers to slow down traffic starting back at Costco, where traffic gets heavy as drivers begin to crisscross trying to get into the correct lane--there are about 4 options in this area so its a mess. And of course during rush hour everyone is driving fast. Traffic coming into Frederick on 70 never seems to slow down a bit and it's an accident waiting to happen. The police should have been on the shoulders with flashers to slow traffic so there would be warning that something was happening ahead. How could a dump truck NOT see what was happening ahead? They have the best view and yet a dump truck driver hit a poor SUV who could do nothing to save themselves. I can only guess that there was inadequate warning. Or they were texting. Or both. Sickening.

This motorcade caused an innocent person's death so that they didn't have to drive as slowly as the rest of us have to every day on these overcrowded roads. I hope this causes the uproar needed to widen our roads. WIDEN 70 to Hagerstown and WIDEN 270 to DC.

100s of trucks are sitting idle on 70, unable to move or get through. This is just as bad as a shutdown of an airline and the disruption that causes. We can't afford to be at the mercy of inadequate roads.

Tigerzord

Enforcement is needed on all these roads - I am sure the police are stretched, but it seems like everyone is speeding - much much faster than they should be. All the area roads need attention - the talk of widening 270 is in the 'talk" phase - that should have been 20 years ago! Frederick County development growth under Blaine Young, Billy Shreve, and Kirby Delauter grew over 20,000 in the 4 years they were in - without plans for adequate infrastructure! You can't keep building and building without at least a real plan for infrastructure - I mean MTC was "approved" knowing that MD 75 would not see and $$ to be fixed, even though "someone" put a sign up during the 2014 election that a Vote for Hogan meant 75 would be fixed! We all know who made that sign! MC is just a guilty for continuing to build. 270 is a nightmare!!

shiftless88

Laura, it is pretty well known that increasing the width of a highway simply increases the traffic load until it fills up to about where it was. The problem, more specifically, is people like you driving every day back and forth from Hagerstown to Frederick during rush hour. If people lived closer to where they need to be it would reduce the traffic level. Just sayin'

sofanna

If people could afford a home in Frederick County don't you think they wouldn't be going to Washington County? My husband works in Montgomery County and we live in Frederick. There is NO WAY we could afford to live in Montgomery County. Wages in Frederick County have been on the low side since I started working at age 16, so eventually I also got employment in Montgomery County so I could pay the rent.

There should be a moratorium on all building developments immediately. I have suggested this before, but no one pays attention. Approval is currently being sought to build 850 homes in Frederick County. Where do you think these people are going to end up working?

Tigerzord

Indeed - the building should not be approved - thanks to BY & his cronies, we gained over 20,000 - over 10,000 in an area that cannot handle it. We also need more real business not another Burger King, Royal Farms, Pretzel Shop, etc. like in Urbana. They tore down the old Peter Pan in just for more junk and then built ugly apartments across from where it used to stand. All those opposed to more developments, be sure to show up at hearings or write our County Council - sign up on the website for notifications of such plans. MTC will probably be up soon.

Laura Z

So your suggestion is that I-70 should remain this size forever, no matter how much more truck traffic is added to it? Does that really make sense?
I'm not from this state or this region and when I was a child the interstate near me was four lanes. Now it's ten lanes. If it were still four lanes traffic wouldn't move at all. Ever. In that region housing is dense and there are not open spaces like what I see in Maryland. I have no opinion on what is best, but the use of time and resources would be more optimal if the counties close to Baltimore and DC were much more densely populated. With much better road infrastructure.
Are you suggesting a huge building boom in Montgomery county? That would certainly make more sense than what has been allowed to happen--I would totally agree. When I drive to Baltimore and DC and look at all that open land I can't help but wonder what the purpose is. It seems to exist so that thousands of people can drive two hours to work everyday. But the people of Montgomery county have their own opinions and I doubt they are going to change their minds.
I am able to move to Frederick but if I did my husband would be driving the other direction. So there's that. BTW, driving along with me on 70 are all the Pennsylvania and West Virginia residents who are driving to points east and south. They use the roads just like I do and they live even farther away. Economic pressure being what it is, this problem is not going to go away.
I have called several times to the state highway association to find out whether the widening of 70 was on the boards. I was told several years ago that it was not and that it takes about nine years for it to go from planning to being built. Does anyone know differently?

Tigerzord

Dump Truck drivers are almost the worst!!! (most, not all). I see them ALL the time on the highways and smaller state and county roads and are ALWAYS driving faster (sometimes MUCH faster) than the speed limit. So sad someone had to die :-( Prayers for the families involved. SLOW DOWN, STOP TAILGAITING, PAY ATTENTION!!!!!

jsklinelga

Tigerzord
You are correct. "So sad someone had to die" Absolutely, prayers for all involved. No matter who was at fault it was an accident.

Tigerzord

[sad]

sofanna

Also praying for the family and friends of this individual that died.
BTW, I've been tailgated by dump trucks frequently driving south on I-270. It's quite unnerving to look in your rear view mirror and suddenly seeing a huge dump truck bearing down on you.

b1sellers

Because they get paid by the load they drive way too fast!

kareysmith

Senate Democrats to hold retreat at Bavarian Inn

Posted by hansfogle on January 25, 2017 in Local News

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Officials with several U.S. Senate offices have confirmed that Senate Democrats will be in Shepherdstown today for their annual retreat.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, who was recently named the Vice-Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, will host the Democratic Caucus at the Bavarian Inn today and tomorrow. The retreat give lawmakers a chance to discuss priorities for the 115th Congress.

jsklinelga

The question on everyone's mind is the same as the first comment: who? But we want more answers. Who and why? Did they stop? Was this at government expense? Can they participants in the motorcade be sued? (only partially joking) This seems to be way beyond standard protocol unless it was DT or BHO.

Brookhawk

If you have several vehicles going together to the same place, I can see a need for a temporary road block, but that should have been a quick thing. The wreck because of the dump trucks and civilian SUV were the cause of the major traffic jam, right in the place the new study is concentrating on. Our problem isn't temporary Congressional roadblocks - it's the permanent idiotic and reckless drivers who use our roads. They're not going away - we're stuck with them every minutes of every day.

OldJay

Let's see . . .

435 Congresspersons, 100 Senators, one President, one Vice President. I don't know if Cabinet members, Supreme Court members, etc. are rated roadblocks.

They all live in the DC area. That's an awful lot of potential roadblocks.

JohnSchaeffer1

That motorcade passed me this morning. There must of been 10 motorcycle cops, 2 buses, at least 3 or 4 big black SUVs , state police and several security cars ( secret service ?) . I wonder who the VIPs was or were. In the past I've been passed by Bush and Obama motorcades going north on I270 to , I assume, Camp David and they never were as involved as this one. Agree with the comment a motorcade for the President yes, for Senators, congressmen, governors ..No .

jwhamann

The DOT traffic cam shows that traffic is still at a standstill.

des21

I know this is an obvious generalization but I stay away from Dump Trucks as best I can at all times. They drive extremely fast (generally) change lanes dangerously (generally) and are full of dirt and what not that will break your windshield. I can't say I'm surprised at this. (Apologies to the 3 dump truck drivers who drive responsibly.)

Perhaps as government is given back to the people this nonsense will stop. I wouldn't provide funds for improving 270 either if I had a motorcade that could zip me in and out of DC. Absolutely ridiculous. I want to know who the Congressperson involved was.

nbouqu1

It was either the Speaker of the House or the President Pro Temp of the Senate. Both Republicans

Johnnymop13

Actually that's false. It was the Senate Democrats.
http://www.your4state.com/news/west-virginia/democratic-us-senators-convene-at-bavarian-inn/645375788

bcraig4321

Maybe going to the Bavarian Inn..."Bavarian Inn closed to public; unknown motorcade arrives"

http://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/breaking/bavarian-inn-closed-to-public-unknown-motorcade-arrives/article_e0a6d608-e31e-11e6-8772-4fbc385a1d1b.html

jgrose79

Who was the congressional road block setup for? We have the right to know. Republican or democrat this is pathetic and they should be ashamed of themselves. Congressmen and women should not be allowed to have roadblocks set up. I'm sick of folks thinking they're better than us!

besmartten

Dem or Repub, who cares. As I read article there were two buses and other "black
suvs". My guess is it was a lot of Dems heading to a retreat in WV. Road blocks out this for for one or two is unusual, for a hundred I guess not so. As for better than you stay tuned.

rw11

This was the view from the 15S to 70E ramp shortly at 9:14am. It was hard to tell if it was on 70W or 15N from this vantage point. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C3BbnQYWgAIM1gU.jpg (pic on Twitter)

OldJay

Do members of Congress, and senators, really have the right to request roadblocks so they can get a smooth ride into and out of DC? [scared]

Frayou

Well if there was some prior notice given to police to set up roadblocks, like to think there was police cruisers stationed along roads prior to roadblock so traffic could/would slowdown prior to stopping traffic. Additionally, since improvements with Reich Ford road bridge dump trucks fro quart have plenty of ramp to increase speeds on this section.

OldJay

But why do they need roadblocks?

A presidential motorcade I can understand, but absolutely not special road privileges for Congresscritters.

slenker823

Amen

sheree4175

Not even a presidential motorcade should stop traffic on that part of the highway, as it is extremely dangerous at any time during the day. At the curve in the road just before the ramp meets up with 70, you can not even see 100 feet up the road.

Fredmd21704

they didn't stop traffic, they were just motioning people to get in the right lane, It even said so in the article.

Jthomas515

Congressional motorcade roadblock?

stefcfi

How tragic. Condolences to all involved.

Dwasserba

Who?

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