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Accident reminds some of fatal 1996 crash

U.S. 340

December 15, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - When Shepherd University professor Loren Frankel died following an accident at U.S. 340 and W.Va. 230 Sunday night, it brought back memories of another crash at the site.

In 1996, Jefferson County Commission candidate Leon Nawrocki was on his way to the opening of Democratic headquarters in downtown Charles Town.

A crowd was gathered at the headquarters to celebrate the event and Nawrocki was the only candidate who hadn't shown up, said David Pugh, who was chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee at the time.


Nawrocki never made it to the opening. He was killed in a crash at the intersection of U.S. 340 and W.Va. 230.

Nawrocki was driving south on U.S. 340 when another motorist traveling north on that road attempted to turn left onto W.Va. 230, striking Nawrocki's car and forcing it into a steamroller that was parked along the highway, police said at the time.

Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said he was among those at Democratic headquarters when the announcement was made about Nawrocki.

"I remember that night so well. You could just feel the momentum change in the room from happy, positive, to very quiet, solemn," Boober said Tuesday.

Public servant

Nawrocki, who was a Democratic candidate for the Harpers Ferry, W.Va., seat on the commission, was known as an intelligent, caring public servant and his supporters were excited about the possibility of him bringing those traits to the commission, Pugh said.

Pugh made the announcement about Nawrocki's accident at the headquarters.

"His viewing was just gut-wrenching," Pugh said Tuesday.

Colleagues of Loren Frankel also were excited about his potential.

Frankel, who died following a two-car accident at the intersection Sunday night, began teaching lifespan development psychology at Shepherd University in the fall and his students praised him for his ability to explain complex psychology issues, school officials said.

Shepherd has instructors who specialize in different areas in the psychology department and Frankel was preparing to specialize in child development psychology, according to Irving Tucker, chairman of Shepherd University's Psychology Department.

Tucker said Frankel was going to be a "major player" in the school's Psychology Department.

Frankel, who was driving a Subaru Legacy, was attempting to pull from W.Va. 230 onto U.S. 340 at about 6:25 p.m. Sunday, said Deputy Steve Holz of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Frankel failed to yield to traffic and was struck broadside by a southbound Toyota Avalon, sheriff's department Cpl. Dave Colbert said.

Frankel and his girlfriend, Aimee Coonerty-Feriano, 31, of Brighton, Mass., had to be cut from the wreckage of their car, Holz said.

Frankel died at Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center early Monday and Coonerty-Feriano remained in critical condition at the hospital Tuesday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Congested area

Given the volume of traffic on U.S. 340, Boober said, a traffic light eventually will have to be installed at the intersection of W.Va. 230 and U.S. 340.

Boober said he is surprised a traffic light has not been installed at the intersection of Bakerton Road and U.S. 340, which is north of the W.Va. 230 intersection.

Boober said cars often travel at a high rate of speed as they come down an incline above Bakerton Road.

A spokesman for the state Division of Highways said Tuesday that no additional traffic control measures are being considered for the intersection of W.Va. 230 and U.S. 340.

"That's not to say it couldn't be studied for that," said Larry Deitz, district traffic engineer for the highways department.

Deitz said traffic volume on U.S. 340 is heavier in the early morning and late evening. And because the highway goes from four lanes to two near Harpers Ferry, traffic congestion often becomes an issue, said Deitz, who added that traffic often backs up into Maryland.

Deitz said he could not say if any upgrades to the road are being considered as a way to alleviate the congestion.

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