Sheriff: Drivers, not lack of signs, cause of accident

Curry County Sheriff’s deputy Sean Puritt investigates the scene of a two-vehicle collision Tuesday at the corner of Curry Roads N and 11. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.

Darrell Todd Maurina

Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher said he’s waiting to issue any citations until he learns more details about a fiery crash west of Clovis that wrecked two vehicles Tuesday and sent one victim via helicopter to Lubbock.
“The deputy said she was in stable condition,” said Hatcher. “She was the driver of the car that burned and she had one passenger.”
Hatcher said he is continuing to withhold names of those involved in the crash because some of those involved haven’t yet been identified. The hospitalized woman was driving a small two-door car; the other vehicle was a pickup truck with three male passengers.
The collision occurred at 5:05 p.m. at the corner of County Road N and County Road 11, which is the name given to 21st Street after it leaves the city limits. Hatcher said the road has been a problem area for years.
“It goes straight out from 21st to Cannon (Air Force Base) and we have a lot of accidents on that road,” Hatcher said. “They’re out there driving 50 to 60 mph, they collide, and usually somebody dies. It’s a stretch of road you think goes forever. You don’t think about it until you get hit.”
While the intersection has no stop signs, yield signs, or stoplights, Hatcher said that’s not the problem.
“(These intersections) are not dangerous because of the road conditions, they’re not dangerous because they are uncontrolled, they’re dangerous because drivers don’t pay attention,” Hatcher said. “The law requires the driver yield to the person on the right, but they don’t do it.”
Danny Davis, the Curry County road supervisor, said the large majority of county road intersections have no signs or lights warning approaching drivers to stop.
“When we have an intersection we feel is dangerous, we put up stop signs, and when we improve a road we put up a sign because there will be more traffic,” Davis said. “You don’t expect a crash to happen, but when it does, we take another look at the intersection.”
Davis said each stop or yield sign costs the county about $85 and putting signs on every intersection in the county isn’t feasible, partly because of vandalism and theft.
“We have lots of trouble with people stealing signs, defacing them, shooting them,” Davis said. “People think it’s cool to have a stop sign hanging on a wall in their room. It’s not cool, and in the time it takes us to realize the sign is missing someone could have a crash.”
Hatcher and Davis said another problem is that the surveyors who originally platted Curry County put roads at every section grid. A review of the rural addressing system map, which Hatcher said would provide a good estimate of the number of rural intersections, showed at least 730 intersections under county jurisdiction.
“We’ve got more intersections than probably any other county in the state because our county is divided up like a checkerboard,” Hatcher said. “The problem is if you had a stop sign out there, 98 percent of the people won’t stop. They don’t stop in town, and there’s definitely more traffic in town and more cops out there.”