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Woman pushes for fences on state overpasses after brother killed

Xavier Smith • Feb 7, 2018 at 2:18 PM

Just more than 26 years ago, a young Marine was driving home from work around 4 a.m. when his route took him to a bridge on Interstate-24 in Smyrna, and that’s when his life ended and other lives changed forever.

Cpl. Larry Hazelwood, a Marine from Mt. Juliet who served in Desert Storm, was driving home from work when two teenagers threw a 54-pound rock from the interstate overpass as he approached it. The rock smashed through the car windshield, crushing Hazelwood’s chest, killing him.

Now, his twin sister, Lara Hazelwood, continues her fight to make sure another family doesn’t suffer the same thing. Hazelwood and her family started the Larry Hazelwood Overpass Protection Initiative, which seeks to raise awareness about the frequency and dangers of throwing objects from overpasses, and strives for fences along Tennessee overpasses.

“One day, it just kind of hit me – there’s something I got to do,” Hazelwood said. “I want to do something. This is a huge passion for me.”

Hazelwood and friends have discussed the initiative with state legislators, including state Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, and Tennessee Department of Transportation officials. They believe some overpasses will feature fences starting in 2020.

The Facebook page for the group features constant updates and stories from across the country about similar incidents that involved overpasses and objects.

“This happened and changed the course of so much of everyone’s life. And [Hazelwood] wants young people to know it is not fun, not a prank, not a joke,” said Nancy Gardner Arrington. “She wants kids and adults to see the outcome before they make a bad decision like throwing rocks off overpasses. The amount of stories is staggering, as well as heartbreaking. It is hard to read them and even harder to understand how this horrible act continues.”

 

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