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Neighborhood Reacts to Perry Hall Hit-and-Run Arrest

Neighbors still grieved 12 weeks after 68-year-old Beverly Moore was killed along Seven Courts Drive.

For residents of a close-knit townhouse community on Bourbon Court, the was a long-awaited development. Their neighbor, 68-year-old Beverly Moore, had been struck and killed while attempting to cross Seven Courts Drive on Jan. 22.

Police announced on Wednesday that 25-year-old , of nearby Sandstone Court, had been charged as the driver responsible for her death.

But while the arrest may eventually provide closure, Moore's home remains vacant, her vehicle remains in the parking lot and the sound of heavy traffic along Seven Courts Drive remains an eerie reminder of her death. Neighbors said they still struggle on a daily basis to accept that Moore isn't ever coming home.

How did the incident impact you and your community? Is reckless driving an ongoing problem along Seven Courts Drive? Tell us in the comments.

Remembering Beverly Moore

Virginia Smith, a retiree and president of the Seven Courts Community Association, becomes emotional recounting the night of Moore's death. The two women were widows, pet-owners and friends.

"[My granddaughter] had just gotten a text from her friend, who said, 'Miss Beverly was just killed.' And you think, 'No, it can't be her,'" Smith said.

Shortly after 7 p.m. on Jan. 22, Moore was returning home from carrying groceries, police said. The round-trip walk from Moore's home to the grocery store is just over a third of a mile and involves crossing Seven Courts Drive. Steps leading to the store from a sidewalk on Seven Courts Drive are about 400 feet north of the nearest crosswalk. The speed limit in that area is 30 mph.

A vehicle stopped to allow Moore to cross Seven Courts Drive near the intersection of Lincolnshire Court, but a Ford 500 sedan swerved around the vehicle. The Ford 500 sedan , before leaving the scene and turning westbound on Joppa Road, according to police.

News of Moore's death spread quickly throughout Bourbon Court.

Smith immediately contacted her next-door neighbor and vice president of the community association, Cindy Hill. She was one of Moore's closest friends, a relationship that had grown more important since the death of Moore's husband, Jerry, in 2009.

"I went into Beverly's house and she still had the radio on and the lights on. You know, she expected to come home," Hill said.

Hill said she felt in shock and wondered why Moore had decided to walk to the grocery store instead of drive. "That was very unusual for her," she said.

Arsen Stepanov, Moore's next-door neighbor, who routinely cleared snow and ice from Moore's walkway, agreed that Moore rarely walked to go shopping.

"I remember, I think she had some ice on her windshield. I asked her the day before if she needed anything. I picked her up some eggs that Saturday," Stepanov said.

"She was a good lady, at least to me. Everyone liked her," he said.

Waiting for Closure

Charlie Armetta, another neighbor of Moore, is a retired police officer of 30 years. He said his police experience affected his perspective during the 12-week investigation into Moore's death.

On Feb. 1, police located the in the 1600 block of Denise Drive in Bel Air with the help of an anonymous tip, police said. Weeks later, the investigation had been turned over to the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office.

"Everybody was waiting for answers," Armetta said. "Everybody wanted to know if they would catch him."

Hungry for information, rumors about the case swirled through the neighborhood. Armetta said he tried to encourage realistic expectations about the case.

"It just takes a while for these things to happen," he said.

French turned himself in to the Towson police precinct on April 10 and was indicted by a grand jury. He is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $500,000 bail, according to police.

Curt Bouchell, who lives a few houses away from Moore's home, used to pick up her newspaper every morning. He said he had almost given up hope that police would ever make an arrest.

"I'm very much satisfied, because I thought maybe police had just given up on the case," he said.

"There was all that time after they found the car," Bouchell said. "I was really under the impression that they had no way of finding out who was the driver at the time, so I'm very much relieved that justice may be done on this."

"I still think about her every morning I go out with the dog, near the area where she was killed," he said. 

For Hill, news of the arrest was a reminder of the sadness caused by the hit-and-run.

"So many people have suffered from this, so many," she said.

"I'm sure he didn't wake that morning, and think he would go off and kill someone," Hill said. "It's still so sad for everyone, including [French's] family."

"This has really been a learning experience for me, to better appreciate life," she said.

Dangers of Seven Courts

Seven Courts Drive is dangerous, Hill said, and the hasn't improved since Moore's death.

"I dog walk, and I won't cross Seven Courts," she said. "So many people speed down Seven Courts."

Stepanov, who worries about his own family members walking along and across Seven Courts, said speed humps may help reduce speeding.

Seven Courts, however, is not eligible for speed humps because it is classified as a "collector" roadway, officials said.

"Then maybe crosswalks, maybe more crosswalks would help," Stepanov said.

Boushell said he has watched drivers travel 60 to 70 mph in the residential area.

"Early in the morning and after school lets out, the kids, they get in their hot rods and speed," he said. "The speed limit around here is 30. If [police] just bothered with the people who do more than double that, that would help."

Smith said the community organization has requested additional police presence along the roadway. On March 2, police placed a less than a mile north of the scene of the hit-and-run, but Smith said its impact was limited.

Traffic was slower and drivers appeared more cautious while it was up, but traffic returned to normal after the device was taken down, she said.

"You have children crossing this street, and older people, too. When you get older, you don't move as fast," Smith said. "Something needs to be done about Seven Courts."

Jules April 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM
The blame for the Seven Courts speeding problem does not rest solely with kids...people of all ages treat this road as if it's the Autobahn!
Brad Nicholson April 13, 2012 at 12:24 PM
One simple solution would be to restripe Seven Courts Dr. between Neves Ct. (immediately past the entrance to Weis) & Pinedale Dr. Place a turn lane in the middle making the road 1 lane both ways and mark a bicycle lane on the right shoulder preventing the shoulder from being "legally" used as a right hand passing lane. Leaving 2 lanes southbound on Seven Courts Dr. from Neves Ct. to Joppa Rd. should still allow the turn lanes onto Joppa Rd to still function properly. On second thought,also make Seven Courts Dr. one lane from Joppa Rd. to Pinedale Ct.
Brad Nicholson April 13, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Clarification - Make NORTHBOUND Seven Courts Dr. one lane all the way from Joppa Rd. to Pinedale Dr. The center left turn lane should start just before Neves Ct. going northbound on Seven Courts Dr. allowing safe left turns into Neves Ct. for at least 1 vehicle.
Tim April 13, 2012 at 02:15 PM
So true. This isn't an age problem, it's a bad driving problem.
Deb April 13, 2012 at 05:11 PM
agree with Brad, but still think we need more police presence. Just this a.m. woman riding very close because some were doing the speed limit. The minute we got to the break into two lanes she "flew by" us all.
Daniel Bartlow Hart April 13, 2012 at 06:02 PM
IF the driver had merely stopped and accepted his responsibility, it might have been claimed that he simply didn't see the woman and that the stopped vehicle in front of him was the reason. He might have been able to explain it all away. That he fled the scene, regardless of any panic he might have felt, indicates he realized what he had just done and was simply looking out for his selfish "number one". Thus is he guilty of murder, perhaps second degree, perhaps manslaughter, but certainly guilty. As to the riotous driving, this problem actually stems from the especially POOR and utterly SIMPLISTIC licensing of Maryland drivers. Nearly ANY mentally challenged person can acquire a driver's license in this state for the requirements to pass a driver's test are designed to create no controversy or require no learned skills. Too many fools inhabit our roads and listing all their various failings as human beings here and now would serve no purpose. It is a tragedy and more such tragedies are waiting to happen. Rather than require competence before a driver's license is issued, we try to circumvent that reality by adding speed bumps, lights, turn lanes, but what really is demanded is a rethinking of the onerous and inadequate requirements for obtaining a license in the first place. It also wouldn't hurt if schools were turning out young people capable of spelling their own names and thinking before they act like animals, either.
Tracey April 13, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I'm sorry, but you can't only blame schools. Education begins at home, starting with teaching kids how to be decent, responsible citizens and human beings.
Jeanne April 14, 2012 at 01:37 AM
I agree with Jules and Tim 100% this is NOT and age issue this IS people not driving carefully.
Jeanne April 14, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Daniel did you think before posting? "Nearly ANY mentally challenged person can acquire a driver's license in this state for the requirements to pass a driver's test are designed to create no controversy or require no learned skills" This is an insult to everyone that has a license and as far as not having to "require no learned skill" when did you take your test for your license and where? You DO have to require skill to pass the test, you do have to know what you are doing behind the wheel, and you do have to know the LAWS to pass the written test. I do think people should have to take the written test every 10 years to stay current with the laws and it wouldn't hurt to have to have the driving test also. Insurance companies are offering discounts for people to fill out a log of driving time. Included in the log is: time of day, weather, distance, amount of traffic you drove in (for example light traffic, heavy traffic), and you need to write out examples of good choices you made and choices you could have done better. This log is normally kept while you have your learners permit. As far as the "It also wouldn't hurt if schools were turning out young people capable of spelling their own names and thinking before they act like animals, either." You are WRONG, being able to spell your name and a persons behavior is taught at HOME NOT AT SCHOOL. I rather drive on the road with people that have gotten their license in the last few years then "seasoned" drivers.
John Doe April 16, 2012 at 03:57 PM
I see parents driving fast (with their toddlers in the car), weaving through parking lots (it's quicker, you know), parking in handicapped spots (it's closer, you know), parking in fire lanes so they can get their food pick-up (it's easier, you know). This is what the kids see - they think it is ok. Parents, look at yourselves.
Emily Kimball (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 05:55 PM
UPDATE (Sept. 19)—The Seven Courts hit-and-run driver pleaded guilty to striking and killing Beverly Moore in January. David Grayson French Jr. will be sentenced Nov. 1 - http://patch.com/A-xTbM

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