My son was one of the many stranded victims of the surprise snowstorm on Nov. 11. He left our home in Leesburg, Va., about 1:30 p.m. and was not heard from until 6 a.m. the following morning. He was stranded on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge without food, water or warm clothing for almost 18 hours. He did not see any rescue personnel or have any indication that anyone was aware of his predicament or that of many others. This was a potentially life-threatening situation.
After many calls during the night and early morning hours to the Prince George's police, their response was: 1) "If your son is stalled on the bridge without a telephone in his car, he cannot send any messages. 2) There was a "panic" on the bridge resulting from vacated cars and stalled trucks, but we are trying to get a four-wheel-drive vehicle to the area."
We have had many unexpected, serious snow storms and still seem to be unprepared for these emergencies. Recognizing the notoriety of the Wilson Bridge on a normal day, there at least should be access to a working telephone or an emergency rescue vehicle with personnel available to assess a situation and to provide necessary help and reassurance to the victims. Is a sister bridge the answer?
Surely, with our competent, sophisticated communications system among the police, radio stations and television stations, adequate information also could be made available to the public to eliminate the necessity of families' agonizing about the safety of their loved ones.
Problems occurring on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge are not new. Those problems should be addressed before another and perhaps more serious panic results in fatalities.
BARBARA COVELLO Leesburg
The recent and past traffic jams on the Wilson Bridge can be averted by a simple repair in construction. A few sections of the median barrier should be removed and replaced with a gate. One gate at each end of the bridge and in the middle should suffice. Emergency personnel or police officers could reroute traffic through the gates when necessary, or emergency vehicles could cross through at any point to gain access to the other side.
Professional advisers are paid sizable salaries for their ideas. I hope my free advice is considered. NANCY E. HAHN Hyattsville