Mitch Stacy

COLUMBUS: The family of a Lake Township schoolteacher critically injured when a rock was dropped on their car from an overpass has helped push through new state rules to limit the chances such a tragedy could happen to someone else.

Thanks in part to the efforts of Sharon Budd and her husband, Randy, any new or rehabbed bridges over most busy highways in Ohio now will be required to be topped with chain-link fencing to deter vandals. The change in Ohio Department of Transportation rules took effect Jan. 1.

Budd, a 54-year-old middle-school language arts teacher in the Perry Local School District, suffered catastrophic head injuries when a 5-pound rock dropped from an overpass crashed through the windshield of her family’s car as they drove in Interstate 80 in central Pennsylvania in July 2014. Four young men were convicted and sentenced to prison in a case that attracted national attention.

Last year, Randy Budd approached state Sen. Scott Oelslager, who represents their northeastern Ohio district. Oelslager, R-North Canton, arranged meetings with state transportation officials, who were receptive to the idea of installing the fencing on new bridges and overpasses, and when construction is required to rehabilitate old ones.

“I kept thinking, this had to happen for a reason. Why would this happen?” said Randy Budd, 55. “There has got to be something good to come out of this, and it happened. Now it’s going to have an impact in Ohio for years and years to come, and somebody else won’t have to go through what we’re going through — or even death.”