No Major Injuries For Ejected Child

OCEAN CITY — The good news is the 2-year-child ejected into the bay during Sunday’s multi-vehicle accident was released from the hospital on Tuesday, but the incident could trigger a renewed effort to dualize the dangerous highway.

Around 2:47 p.m. last Sunday, multiple vehicles collided on the Route 90 bridge, leaving eight total injured, including a 2-year-old female child, who had been ejected with her car seat from a pick-up truck left teetering over the guardrail and fell roughly 30 feet into the bay below. A Good Samaritan on the bridge saw the child ejected into the bay and jumped over the rail to save her before being pulled out of water by a local family boating nearby.

By Monday afternoon, seven individuals injured during the collision had been released from area hospitals. By Tuesday morning, the 2-year-old child was released from a Baltimore hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. At the close of Monday’s regular meeting, Mayor Rick Meehan praised the selfless “humble hero,” as he is being called, and took the occasion to rekindle discussions about dualizing Route 90. Before he delved into the latter, however, the mayor had high praise for the Good Samaritan who leaped from the bridge into shallow water at his own peril to save the child.

“One of the patients that was transported was a 2-year-old baby that was ejected from one of the vehicles and dropped into the bay,” he said. “The incident was very difficult, but it would have been even more so if it hadn’t have been for an extremely heroic individual. This humble hero jumped from the bridge to rescue the child. There is no doubt this individual saved that child’s life.”

Throughout the week, the humble hero preferred to remain anonymous. However, his identity is expected to be revealed at a press conference on Friday. As of Monday’s meeting, however, he was known simply as the “humble hero.”

“We call him a humble hero and that really is the case because, at this point, the individual prefers to remain anonymous,” said Meehan. “We should send our heartfelt gratitude out to this individual and thanks from every person in this community.”

Meehan said the positive outcome for all involved was welcome news in a persistent sea of negativity for the most part.

“There’s a lot of negative news out there, but thankfully, although this was a tragic accident, it did have what can at least be deemed a happy ending,” he said. “Everybody survived, and everybody appears to be fine.”

Meehan said Sunday’s incident proved again how quickly life can change in an instant and also praised the first-responders for their efforts.

“I hope tonight we all go home to our families and we remember how lucky we are to have those first responders,” he said. “We should all be very thankful they were out there, and they were doing the job they were hired to do and that they want to do.”

Meehan said Route 90 was closed in both directions for about six hours while first responders triaged and transported victims, secured the vehicle hanging over the guardrail and cleared the wreckage before the bridge could be safely reopened.

“Our fire and police personnel worked on the scene for nearly six hours,” he said. “They didn’t leave until that entire area was secure. The bridge was closed down for about six hours.”

While somewhat reluctant to broach the topic, Meehan took the opportunity to point out Sunday’s incident was another example of the need for the future dualization of Route 90 and its bridges.

“As a side note, and I don’t want to piggyback on this too much, but the Mayor and Council have been very, very consistent in our approach that we believe Route 90 should be dualized,” he said. “If there was ever something that really exemplifies why that’s the case, this is it.”

For years, Ocean City officials have expressed their desire to see Route 90 improvements, including expanding the highway and its bridges from the current two lanes to four to ease access in and out of the resort for the public, but perhaps more importantly for emergency services including fire apparatus and ambulances, for example. For years, State Highway Administration (SHA) officials have listened to and acknowledged the town’s pleas to expedite the dualization of the Route 90 corridor and it remains near the top of Worcester County’s priority list for state highway projects, but it appears no closer to becoming a reality. Route 589 is next up on the state’s list.

“Not only maybe the accident might not have happened, but also the highway was closed down for six hours,” said Meehan. “If that had happened at a time when we were trying to evacuate the town of Ocean City, that would have created a catastrophe.”

Again, with Sunday’s incident still so fresh, Meehan was somewhat reluctant to use it as a catalyst to renew the Route 90 dualization effort, but said it could be used to illustrate the importance.

“I hate to utilize an incident like this to rationalize why something should be done, but hopefully, this will raise awareness and help move this up to the top of the list,” he said. “Not that I want to do it, but at least it’s an opportunity to point how serious this situation has become.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.