Local News

Canadian Teen Remains In Critical Condition After Overpass Attack

Posted March 15, 1999

— A Canadian family's trip through North Carolina came to a screeching halt whensomeone threw a 30 pound rock off a Cumberland County overpass.

The rock hit the driver, 18-year-old Michael Vytlingam, who remains in critical condition with head injuries. Most people want to know if this overpass attack could have been prevented.

Vytlingam's family and deputies agree that the attack could have happened to anyone who travels the interstate.

"That's all I wanted to do was to hold his hand," said Suzan Vytlingam, the victim's sister.

Vytlingam rushed from Canada to Fayetteville to be by her brother's side. Supportive phone calls and e-mail have not stopped since she arrived.

"But everyone has made it easier for us. People we don't even know are calling us to find out how Michael is, and that much is appreciated," said Vytlingam.

Michael and his father were driving home to Canada on Interstate 95 when they became random victims of an attack.

A 30 pound rock thrown from a Cumberland County overpass hit Michael in the head. He shows some signs of life but is still in very dangerous territory.

"I just can't believe someone would do this, but how do you go about protecting people from people of this mind set? I just don't know how you do that. It's just so costly," said John Emerson,DOTAssistantBridge MaintenanceEngineer.

Emerson says it just would not be cost-effective to build metal fences on all of North Carolina's overpasses.

Larger cities with heavy pedestrian traffic have them to prevent people from throwing things into traffic, but Emerson says North Carolina is too rural.

A fence on the Buck Jones Road overpass in Raleigh is there primarily to prevent bikers from falling into traffic, but transportation officials say they are investigating what, if anything, could be done to prevent people from throwing things into traffic.

An account has been set up to help Vytlingam's family pay for his medical expenses and their stay in the United States.

You can make a donation to the Michael Dennis Vytlingam Fund at anyBB&Tbank.

Cumberland County authorities are still looking for the people responsible for this attack.

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