18-year-old fatality victim planned to fight drunken driving

October 23, 1990|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Evening Sun Staff

Debbie Yohn said that, most of all, she just wanted to help Jennifer Jones.

"I really just wanted to help her get it together," Yohn said. "She was having such a hard time."

Yohn will never get the chance.

Jones, 18, was killed Sunday night along with two other people in an alcohol-related accident in western Baltimore County.

Yohn, a nurse at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore who accompanies students through the emergency area in a "Scared Straight" type of effort to deter them from drinking and driving, had been arranging for Jones to speak to teen-agers about such hazards.

Just three months ago, Jones had been a passenger in an alcohol-related accident that killed Yohn's 3-year-old cousin, Ryan Garth Davis Shanahan, as he played in the back yard of his home in Reisterstown.

The driver in that accident, Amy Bolte, 20, is to go on trial tomorrow in Baltimore County Circuit Court on charges of automobile manslaughter.

"What more does it take," said Michael M. Gimbel, director of Baltimore County's Office of Substance Abuse. "Sometimes it seems that we take a step forward and two steps back."

The car in which Jones was riding Sunday night ran off the road and crashed head-on into a tree near Harrisonville, police said.

The driver of the car, Lucius Hardwick 3rd, 22, of the first block of Clarks Road, Reisterstown, and passengers Caprice Mossner, 14, and Jones, both of the first block of Trout Brook Circle, Reisterstown, were all pronounced dead at the scene.

A fourth passenger, Terrance Lilly, 17, of the 300 block of Bentley Park Lane, Reisterstown, was treated at Sinai Hospital. He was released yesterday.

Police spokesman Sgt. Stephen Doarnberger said investigators believe alcohol was a factor in Sunday's accident. Lilly told police investigators that an open bottle of wine was in the car when Hardwick, Jones and Mossner picked him up, Doarnberger said.

Lilly also said that Hardwick appeared to be intoxicated, Doarnberger said. He said Lilly told police that Hardwick was driving at high speed and Lilly asked him many times to slow down. Lilly also asked Hardwick to let him drive.

Hardwick, Lilly and Jones began arguing, the youth told police. Jones' involvement in the earlier fatal accident was mentioned, Doarnberger said Lilly told police.

"It just goes to show you, you can't argue with a drunk," Gimbel said. "Once you get in a car, you can't get out. Once you're in there, it's too late."

Gimbel said a special meeting of Students Against Drunk Driving is being called for Thursday at 7 p.m. in the county's substance-abuse office. The presidents of all 24 chapters of SADD in the county are being asked to attend, Gimbel said.

"We just have to keep pushing this," Gimbel said.

Gail Shane, president of the Reisterstown group "Neighbors Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse," said the accident has really upset her. Just last week her organization handed out more than 8,000 folders to students at 10 area schools, along with an appeal in a letter by Ryan's mother, to help fight the problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse.

"We're all just kind of stunned at the moment," Shane said. "I just can't believe that it's Jennifer Jones.

"She wanted to speak to the kids. What happened [Sunday] night? What made her get in that car," Shane asked.

Shane said her group also will be meeting at Owings Mills High School on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Shane said she is expecting a large turnout.

"I don't know at the moment what we're going to do but we have to take action," Shane said.

Yohn said she had spoken with Jones a few weeks ago. Yohn had hoped that by spring Jones would be ready to speak to students coming through the Shock-Trauma program.

"She said it was something she was interested in," Yohn said. "I told her I was interested in helping her. I told her I knew what she was going through."

Despite the fact that Ryan was a cousin of Yohn's, the nurse said she could identify with the young woman. Nearly 13 years ago, Yohn was a passenger in a car involved in a drunken-driving accident. Her best friend was killed.

"It was really a shock," Yohn said of Jones' death. "What a way to learn a lesson.

"You can't try to make a choice at the last moment," she said. "It could be the last ride you ever take."

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