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Man taken to Meritus Medical Center after car hits bridge over Antietam Creek

February 24, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • A portion of a stone bridge on Frederick Street near Funkstown was damaged early Sunday morning when it was struck by a car.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

FUNKSTOWN, Md. — A Hagerstown man was taken to Meritus Medical Center with life-threatening injuries Sunday morning after the car he was driving hit a two-lane stone arch bridge over Antietam Creek to Funkstown and took out a stretch of the bridge’s stone wall, the Funkstown fire chief said.

Joshua Harrison Gettleman, 24, was hurt in the crash, Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said. Mullendore said Gettleman was in critical condition Sunday.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office responded to the accident, including the office’s reconstruction team, said Fire Chief David “Buck” Fraley of the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co.

The two-lane bridge was closed from the time of the accident, shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday, until almost 6 a.m., said Fraley, who served as incident commander. Fraley said the fire department got the call for the accident at 12:55 a.m. Sunday.

Curtis Dobson said he was turning the lights off to go to bed in the trailer beside the bridge when he heard the car hit the bridge.

Dobson, 37, said he heard a “smack and a thud” as stone from the bridge wall hit the ground. He said he also felt the ground shake.

When he looked out the window, “It was a mess,” Dobson said.

The car, a Subaru Legacy, was heading from Hagerstown into Funkstown when it struck the bridge, Fraley said. The car knocked a stretch of the wall down and bounced from the wall to a red, concrete post that protects a fire hydrant along North Westside Avenue, he said. The car ended up near a red brick house at the corner of North Westside Avenue and West Chestnut Street, Fraley said. Fraley estimated the car ended up 500 to 600 feet from where it hit the bridge.

Funkstown firefighters removed the male driver from the car, which Fraley said he did not believe flipped over because the car’s roof was not caved in, he said.

A picture of the car, provided by the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association’s photo team, shows severe damage to the front of the car, with the hood bent back and the front left tire missing.

Fraley said the driver was wearing a seat belt.

Fraley estimated the hole in the side of the bridge was about 40 feet long.

Chunks of the stone and the flat slab that lay across the top of the wall were piled up on the hillside beside the bridge. That end of the bridge is just south of the creek and runs along the Antietam Village trailer park along West Poplar Street.

Maryland State Highway Administration workers put up concrete barrier walls to block the hole before the bridge was reopened, Fraley said. Orange-and-white striped barrels also were set up along the damaged stretch of the bridge.

According to the town of Funkstown’s website, the “West Side Avenue stone bridge was the first stone arch bridge over the Antietam Creek and was built by James Lloyd. It was defaced in 1931 when it was widened to accommodate traffic.”

The bridge is part of Alternate U.S. 40.

Fraley said the road had dew on it overnight, but the area was not foggy.

Also responding to the scene were Community Rescue Service, the Washington County Highway Department, and fire police from Hagerstown and Washington County, Fraley said.

This story was corrected at 5:25 Feb. 25, 2013 to correct the time the accident was reported.

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