- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

A Bowie, Md., man driving along Route 50 early Wednesday morning was shaken but not badly injured when a 50-pound log was dropped from an overpass and shattered his windshield.
Mark Leonard, 41, had just dropped off a friend and was approaching the Church Road overpass about 1:15 a.m. Wednesday, about four miles from his home.
As he passed underneath the overpass, what he first thought was a boulder exploded through the center of the windshield, showering him with tiny shards of glass.
"I was quite surprised and stressed," he said.
Mr. Leonard, who suffered only "superficial injuries" to his forearm, pulled his 1994 Pontiac Firebird to a stop on the shoulder. He then noticed the log about a foot in diameter and 2 feet long that had crushed the dashboard.
"It took me about one second to realize this was a deliberate act," Mr. Leonard said.
Maryland State Police arrived about 10 minutes after a Good Samaritan who had pulled over to help called them on his cell phone.
Police are investigating, and they say the person or persons responsible face charges of malicious destruction of property.
The say such attacks are rare and describe this one as "an isolated incident."
"It's a very serious incident and it's taken very seriously," said Maryland State Police spokesman Rob Moroney. Cpl. Moroney said such cases require "diligent investigation."
The Church Road overpass is less than 20 feet above Route 50 and is protected by a chain-link fence about 8 feet high.
Valerie Burnette, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, called such fences a "general safety measure" for both pedestrians on the overpasses and motorists below, but added that they can't always prevent such incidents.
She said someone would be sent out to examine the fence.
Tree clearing is being done about a half-mile from the overpass on Church Road, and stumps can be seen around the area.
This isn't the first time an object has been thrown from an overpass at motorists traveling below.
In 1995, five juveniles were charged with reckless endangerment and malicious destruction of property for three incidents of throwing "softball-sized rocks" at three tractor trailers traveling westbound on Route 50 under the Oceanic Drive overpass near Annapolis. No one was hurt in that incident.
A 16-year-old girl suffered a fractured skull and was in a coma for six weeks after a car she was traveling in was struck by a rock thrown from an overpass on the Capital Beltway in 1990.
One of the three men charged was convicted of 34 misdemeanors and eight felonies in similar incidents.


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