A Sign of Tragedy

STOP – it’s a four-letter word that’s especially important on the octagonal signs on today’s heavily traveled highways.

Yet, those and other signs are being stolen or vandalized, sometimes being shot at, elsewhere in Ohio.

A missing, toppled or vandalized sign can result in tragedy.

Such a tragedy occurred in the Circleville area when two sisters, both in their 80s, died when a stop sign was concealed with plastic wrap smeared with petroleum jelly. One sister failed to see the obscured sign and drove into the path of another vehicle.

The Columbus Dispatch in late February reported a 19-year-old Pickaway man accepted responsibility for what began as a prank and ended in the women’s deaths. The accident occurred last August after the plastic was tossed onto the sign.

Sentencing has not yet been pronounced for the Pickaway man, who pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide. The stop sign was vandalized when he and another man had been playing pranks by wrapping the vehicles of female friends with smeared plastic wrap.

That’s only instance of sign problems.

According to the Columbus newspaper, Berne Township in Fairfield County is being hit hard with defaced or stolen traffic signs.

Some signs are being shot full of holes, and it was reported that one speed-limit sign has bullet holes of different sizes.

A township trustee said the vandalism began last fall, and the township has replaced 10 or 15 safety signs and about 15 road signs.

Included among the signs taken was one for Paradise Road. Apparently, the name appealed to the thief even though that individual’s actions definitely weren’t heavenly.

Stealing a sign such as that or a stop sign possibly to adorn a room is asinine.

In one weekend alone, seven signs including four stop signs were stolen from roads in Berne Township.

The cost to replace a stop sign is $100, and county and township governments are having enough monetary problems without such needless expenses.

Far outweighing the dollar figures, however, is what can easily occur if a sign is stolen or obscured – it can end in tragedy, both for the victims and the vandal.