A Maryland youngster who wants to slide down icy roads after dark this winter may want to install headlights and tail lights on his sled because the sled now is considered a vehicle by the state's courts.
The question arose when the family of a western Maryland girl, who was injured by a car when she was sledding through an intersection in the evening, tried to collect damages from the motorist involved.
The state courts twice denied the family's request, ruling that, although Kathryn Moon's sled may have had the right of way in the intersection, the 7-year-old was "almost impossible to see" because the sled carried no lights.
The Supreme Court yesterday refused to review the state court's decision.
The case of Kathryn Moon has been in the courts for 11 years, ever since the December night when she sledded down towards an intersection near her home in Loch Lynn and subsequently was struck and thrown off her sled by a car driven by Richard 1. Weeks, a neighbor of hers in the small Garrett County community, according to court records.
As a result of the accident, Kathryn now 18, suffered brain damage and lost most of the use of her right hand. The brain injuries also apparently retarded the growth of the left side of her face and body, according to court documents.
Weeks, according to testimony in the trails, was traveling between 8 and 10-miles an hour - well within the legal speed limit - when his car struck Kathryn's sled. The intersection where the accident occured had no traffic ligots, stop signs, or other directional signals, according to testimony.
"I think (the series of court decisions) is disgusting," said Kathryn's mother Dorothy, 45, yesterday. "The judges seem to have kid's sleds mixed up with snow-mobiles. I've never seen a sled yet that had lights on it."