Teenager in Mt. Hebron Collision Remains Critical

Patch readers say the Mt. Hebron lot -- and all high school lots -- can be dangerous.

The 18-year-old driver in last week’s collision near an Ellicott City high school remains in critical condition Monday, according to a spokesperson at University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center.

Jeffrey Conner Sinclair was leaving a Mt. Hebron parking lot after shcool on Thursday, Jan. 3, with four passengers in a Honda Civic. Police say Sinclair drove onto Route 99 in front of a Mack truck. 

The collision, police said, may have been a result of Sinclair’s failure to stop at a stop sign. The four passengers with him were all treated at Howard County General Hospital and released; a helicopter flew Sinclair to Shock Trauma, where he has remained in critical condition for three days.

Patch readers have weighed in, saying that the Mt. Hebron – and high school parking lots in general, are unsafe places to drive. 

Reader Justin Case said he sees similar driving patterns all the time:

I drive a fuel truck for a living & believe me, drivers in a hurry, especially kids getting out of a full day of school, constantly pull out in front of trucks because they don't have the patience to get behind a slower moving vehicle. What they don't realize is that we cannot stop our trucks on a dime like a car can no matter how slow we're moving.

User MyBrandy sees it, too:

Failing to stop at stop sign, trying to "beat" oncoming traffic, speeding through and out of the parking lot happens every day at all of our high schools. It is a most terrifying sight and I am surprised more accidents don't happen. My prayers for this young man and his family and friends.

High school parking lots in general are a concern for EL, who has found a way to try to stay safe:

High school parking lots are scary places at dismissal time. I have chosen to sit in my car for a couple of minutes rather than compete with that.

Regardless of the cause, my prayers and sympathies go out to this family and all his friends.

These types of tragedies are so horrible and to have it all be in the public eye, I think, makes it even more difficult.

And Teresa Beller has particular concerns about the Mt. Hebron lot:

Two of my children are recent graduates from Mt Hebron. Leaving the parking lot at that location is extremely difficult. Visibility is very limited in one direction and traffic is heavy most of the day. That accident could have happened to any one of our children. My prayers are with Jeff's family and the Mt Hebron community.


Do you feel safe driving near high schools at dismissal time? What could be done to make the Mt. Hebron exit safer?

Doug K January 07, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Perhaps left turns should be prohibited out of that part of the parking lot. Left turns could be made at the traffic light instead.
number9dream January 07, 2013 at 06:04 PM
I know, let's install more speed cameras! Remember what those politicians say, never let a crisis go to waste...
Jack January 07, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Someone else commented that the student parking lot does not have access to the exit with the traffic light.
FRANCIS January 07, 2013 at 07:14 PM
That portion of the parking lot exit should be right turn only. Unfortunately, the designers of the new traffic pattern at Mt Hebron chose to allow no access to the light in order to turn left from the lower lot.This should be corrected immediately,as it is often a long wait at times for traffic to clear enough for left turns from the lower lot. There is no additional cost or manpower required-simply open the existing gate
Doug K January 07, 2013 at 07:50 PM
But it could
EL January 07, 2013 at 09:15 PM
I think it would be awesome if all high school parking lots HAD to exit at a light ... and at an intersection that allowed NO right on red.
Janet January 08, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Perhaps it would be safer to put traffic lights at all high schools leaving the student parking areas. There are always long lines of traffic to get out of the school and the light would get rid of the riskier behavior and the pressure to get out of the lot.
Brandie Jefferson January 08, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Traffic lights do seem like the might be good for safety as well as traffic mitigating the heavy traffic around schools at dismissal time. What about crossing guards? (Do they still call them that?)
Vicky C January 08, 2013 at 03:41 PM
There is an option to merge into the line of vehicles leaving the school at the traffic light so that a left turn is easier to make. A gate separates the main lot (with the light) and the student lot. The gate is opened at dismissal time and other times of high trafic.
MR6453 January 08, 2013 at 06:14 PM
Or...the drivers could be more attentive, stop at the stop sign, and not pull out until the path is clear.
Jack January 09, 2013 at 04:58 AM
I would look into the gate as to if it is opened or closed. It seems the purpose of a gate is to restrict traffic from the lower lot so the buses can all exit at once. At schools like Glenelg the hcpss completely seperated the two lots recently. I have a strong feeling there was a concious decision to seperate the access at all schools to allow the buses an easier exit and was done without considering the safety of student drivers. This would fall under Mr. Roey's dept but may have been ordered by his superiors and without due consideration of all our children's safety would be negligence.
MR6453 January 09, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Thousands of people go in and out of all kinds of parking lots every day and don't get hit. Been to the mall lately? Keep blaming everyone but the driver, and the young drivers will never learn anything about personal responsibility, and the responsibility to their passengers.
Jack January 10, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Legally the driver may be at fault, I was not there but that is one issue. The exit is unsafe or another exit which is clearly safer is restricted and the inexperienced driver does not have access is another issue.


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