BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind - Bartholomew County authorities are frustrated by hit-and-run drivers who have destroyed two of the county’s five solar-powered, flashing stop signs within the last couple weeks.
“Speaking for law enforcement, it is frustrating,” said Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Captain Dave Steinkoenig. “The commissioners have stepped up and spent the money to buy those upgraded signs. And now that those signs aren’t there, we’re back to basically square one with regular signs.”
The signs are specially designed to get the attention of drivers as they approach some of the area’s most dangerous intersections, like the junction of County Road 550 North and Marr Road. That’s where 17-year old Keegan Phillips died in a multi-vehicle crash that also injured three other teens in 2016.
Captain Steinkoenig says he can’t recall any crashes involving serious injury at any of the intersections where the flashing signs have been installed.
That’s part of the reason why he and County Commissioner Phil Lienhoop say they’re disappointed that two of the county’s signs have been destroyed in the last couple weeks.
“They are really visible, even in the daylight,” Lienhoop said. “But at night, it’s unbelievable.”
County officials don’t have any reason to think drivers have intentionally hit the signs.
“For whatever reason, this person or these people failed to report that accident, which is a crime in and of itself,” Steinkoenig pointed out.
Each sign costs about $1200, Lienhoop said. Without any police report on file for the accidents, the county can’t file an insurance claim to replace the signs.
“It was frustrating,” Lienhoop stated. “But again we have no choice but to replace them and move on and hopefully it won’t happen again for a while.”
Steinkoenig agrees that replacing the sign is a necessary cost to maintain the same level of safety.
“We put them up in the first place for a reason,” he said. “And to not replace them, it seems as though we’d be taking a step back.”
“This is going to teach us that we’re probably going to have to keep a couple spares on hand,” Lienhoop said.
County Commissioners approved the purchase of new signs on Monday. Lienhoop expects the new signs to be installed in the next 10 days.