by Dennis Dalman
When Jodi Westbrook of St. Stephen thinks about what could have happened to her daughter, an unsettling mixture of anxiety and anger overcomes her.
On Wednesday night, April 4, at about 11:30 p.m., Westbrook’s 17-year-old daughter was driving home to St. Stephen after seeing the 3-D version of the movie “Titanic” in Waite Park. While driving north on 30th Avenue N., just past the Sartell compost site, she slammed on her brakes and went skidding to the edge of the road, almost into the ditch. At the same time, another vehicle – southbound –veered off into the ditch and then back onto the road.
What “threw” both drivers in the darkness was the sudden “appearance” of a long strip of yellow “caution” tape that had been tied across the road – from a stop sign on 1st Street N. to the “T” sign on 30th Avenue N. That intersection is a “T” at which 30th Avenue N., a 55-mph two-lane road, goes north and south with no stop sign on it. From the east, 1st Street N. connects to it, and there is a stop sign there.
Westbrook dreads to think what could have happened to her daughter had her car slammed into the ditch and rolled.
“I had a sleepless night,” she said Thursday. “And today at work has been tough, just thinking about it.”
Westbrook works in the surgical unit at the St. Cloud Hospital.
Westbrook is angry at the person or persons who strung that tape across the road. Such tampering with road safety signs is a very serious offense and could land someone in jail and/or prison if the tampering leads to someone’s injury or death. Westbrook said she would also like to see the person or persons responsible held accountable for their reckless behavior.
Law enforcement was made aware of the incident and removed the tape.
Westbrook called the Newsleader because she wants people to know how dangerous it is to tamper with or vandalize roads or road signs.
“When I think what could have happened to my daughter, it just makes me sick,” she said.