Share This Page

Rock injuries prove motorists' vulnerabilities

| Sunday, July 20, 2014, 10:39 p.m.

HARRISBURG — A rock-throwing attack that left an Ohio woman with serious injuries shows that motorists are vulnerable to targeting from a highway bridge or overpass.

As middle school language arts teacher Sharon Budd, 52, recovers in 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 whether there's some sort of action they can take.

“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 when 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 on 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 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 are 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.

Last month, a woman got glass in her eyes when a chunk of asphalt crashed through her windshield in Festus, Missouri. About a dozen vehicles were damaged by rocks thrown onto I-70 in Columbus, Ohio, 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 I-5 overpass in Woodburn, Oregon.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.