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Tragic Deaths of 3 Teenagers Could Have Been Prevented

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Poorly Engineered Guardrail System at Canals  Places Public at Risk In Coral Springs.

by Howard Melamed Dec 6,2009

A few weeks ago, three teenagers drowned in the canal that crosses Broken Woods Drive.   Although the police are investigating the actual circumstances that sent the three youths to their death as the car they were in toppled past the guard rails and into the canal upside down,  the one thing they are not investigating is the negligent homicide that should be levied against the government agency , department, employee, or engineer that are behind the poorly designed and installed guardrail system that is supposed to be protecting us from driving into a canal.

To make matters worse,  the guardrail that was simply tossed aside as the car passed it into the canal, was newly installed only a few months early.   It replaced a stone wall that was both longer and more sturdy than the flimsy shorter guardrail.  Taking a photo at the scene of the accident a few days after and comparing it with an actual street view from Bing Live Aerials shows the proof.  Photo 1 shows the aerial view taken before the accident occurred clearly showing an arched stone fence extending beyond both side so the canal.  Photo 2 shows the guard rail a few days after the accident. Notice that it was pushed in the direction that it was hit. The posts folded over without providing the resistance a stone fence would provide.  Notice as well that the guardrail started where the canal started and not brought forward to protect the ease of access as seen in the picture below right . Photo 3 shows the exact picture of the path that the car took that ended up in the canal drowning the three teenagers and shows that the guardrail clearly falls short of the canal opening. 

Photo 2: Guard Rail as it appears now, after the accident.
 
Photo 3: The path the car took. Notice the guard rail to the left is does not extend enough to block the path.  

Incredible as it may seem, the guardrail does not extend far enough to protect cars from entering the canal because our public works department, and/or the water districts that take care of the canals,  want an easy way to get their equipment close to the canal so they can service it.   This error in judgment exists  in so many other places in our city that all should be concerned that it is unsafe to drive a car across some bridge.

One street to the north of the deadly barrier at Broken Woods Drive, is the very same condition…..The guard rail does not extend out to protect a car from driving into the canal.   Around the corner on University Drive,  the very same canal has a bridge over it.  The bridge has a HANDRAIL.  The handrail cannot stop a car from going into the deep canal.

Touring the city you see evidence of more poor engineering and gross negligence.  It’s not as though guardrails are a new item. There are design criteria by which competent engineers design the protective barriers.  However, if you have incompetent people installing them,  or incompetent city officials poorly supervising or determining their safety characteristics, or not installing them where they are needed, it is not wonder why more people haven’t driven into the extensive canal system in our city….. BUT THEY HAVE!  That is the bigger issue.

How about the photo below?  You are heading along Coral Springs Drive toward Royal Palm Blvd. You pass Cyprus Park and after you see the basketball courts on the right ,  the road starts a gentle climb to the level of the bridge crossing a deep canal operated by the Coral Springs Improvement District.  Take a look to the right as you drive toward the bridge.  You will see at least 60 feet of open area with no protection, allowing a car to simply drive off the road into the canal.  Maybe,  this will be the canal that will one day swallow a car up, just  like the lady that was reported  missing 17 years ago and was recently found in a Broward County canal.   The only guardrail that is protecting anything  is a 10 foot flimsy piece of metal sticking out on an angle protecting the concrete rail of the bridge from being damaged by an oncoming motorist.   This is a ridiculous condition.

It’s not like this is a discovery that no one knows about.   8 years ago, we wrote an article on  Coralsprings.,com ( http://www.coralsprings.com/Police/another_car_in_the_canal.htm ) severely questioned the engineers within various government agencies, when a car drove into the C-14 canal off of Coral Springs Drive.  This open area, is a few hundred feet from riverside drive and Coral Springs drive intersection,  with Taravela High School being on the Southwest Corner.  Click on the Thumbnail  

 C-14 CANAL NEAR TARAVELLA HIGHSCHOOL.  PATH TO ENTER CANAL GOING SOUTHBOUND

Coming north on Coral Springs Drive before the very same bridge is another dangerous non-protected section of canal.  This extends almost from the corner all the way to the bridge. You can see a barrier, almost 75 feet from the roadway,  but it is there to stop cars from driving along the canal!  See below:

 NORTH BOUND FROM SOUTHGATE ENTERING CORAL SPRINGS TOWARD TARAVELLA HIGH .  NOTICE STUPID LOCATION OF GUARDRAIL

Who is responsible for placing guard rails at the canals? It sort of depends on who built  the canal and or who owns the roadway.  Our major streets are county roads, then Broward County should be responsible for roads like Coral Springs Drive, University , Atlantic Blvd etc. and the barriers on it.   However the canal owners, should be responsible too. Depending where you are in the City will be dependant on who operates the canals.  Perhaps it is the Army Corps of Engineers who run C-14  are responsible for where it crosses the roadways.  To the south we have the government body that no one elects, known as Coral Springs Improvement District.  Other districts like them, should be responsible to make sure no one drives into their canals.  Isn’t the owner of a house with a  swimming pool in this city responsible to make sure no one drowns in their pool, and makes it safe by putting up a fence?

We have other water districts like , Coral Springs Improvement District,  that are not elected by us so they feel they may feel they  have no  responsibility to ward protecting their property.  The City has responsibility for the small roadways, such as the one that took the lives of the teens.  However, depending on the subdivision that you are at, perhaps Eagle Trace etc,  they may also have some responsibility.

Then again,  why should we care?  If the City has enough sense to run a police force that protects us from criminals,  can they not take on the responsibility of making sure that the canals are safe?

IF I were one of the family members that lost their loved one in this tragedy, I would be looking to who is responsible in insuring that the public is protected from the deadly canals in our city as one of the contributing factors to the deaths.

There are three dead teenagers that have died partially due to the negligence of one of our government agencies.   At the minimum  the police should investigate to see if these are not negligent homicides, where engineers, public workers, perhaps a contractor or two, didn’t do their jobs that lead to these deaths.  At a minimum,  our City Commissioners should immediately call for an inquiry as to how guard rails are being installed in this city.  They should  hire an independent civil engineering firm to come out with standards that will protect our citizens and visitors from the deadly canals.

We can’t let this happen again in this city !!!!!

—–

Three Teenagers that Drowned: Toxicology Results Showed Driver of Car on Drugs

Coral Springs Fl.  Jan 29 2010:   Three teens came to a tragic death when the car they were driving plunged into a canal.  According to Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office, the toxicology reports on the three teenagers showed impairment on the driver from a drug known as  TNC,  or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol,  that enters the blood stream by either smoking or eating  marijuana.

On November 15, 2009 at approximately 12:18am a 2007 red Volkswagen driven by Sean Maxey, 16, of Coral Springs was attempting to turn onto University Drive from Broken Woods Drive.  As Maxey entered University Drive his vehicle struck a 1998 gold Acura driven by Kiran Parekh, 59, of Miami. After striking the Acura Maxey drove in reverse on Broken Woods Drive striking a street sign and guardrail before going into a canal.  Maxey and three other passengers were inside the vehicle when it went into the canal.  Evan Sinisgalli, 15, of Coral Springs was able to exit the vehicle and swim to land.  Maxey and the other two passengers, Robert Nugent, 16, of Coral Springs and Anthony Almonte, 16, also of Coral Springs had to be extracted by Coral Springs police officers.

All four teenagers were transported to Coral Springs Medical Center where Maxey, Almonte and Nugent were pronounced dead.

Both the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office and NMS Labs in Pennsylvania completed toxicology reports.  Senior Toxicologist Michael Wagner of the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office stated “The amount of 6.4ng/mL of Delta-9-THC in the blood of driver Sean Maxey reveals a recent ingestion of the THC.  The individual would be under the influence of the drug and would exhibit CNS (central nervous system) impairment”.

However, according to a research report  titled ” Developing Limits for driving under canibis” Volume 102 Issue 12, Pages 1910 – 1917 of Addiction , by Published4 Oct 2007Journal compilation © 2010 Society for the Study of Addiction,  levels under 10 ng/ml are in not associated with an elevated accident risk. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Traffic Homicide Investigator Eric Schuster of the Coral Springs Police Department Traffic Unit at 954-346-1247.

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Howard Melamed

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