ABERDEEN -- Three people, including a 76-year-old woman and an 18-month-old baby, were killed and three others were injured yesterday when a car crossed the median strip of Interstate 95 and collided with another car just south of Aberdeen, state police said.
The accident occurred 12 miles south of the spot where five people died Friday in a similar crash on the same highway.
Members of rescue crews at the scene said yesterday's crash could have been worse had the driver of a tour bus carrying a group of California schoolchildren not done a "sterling job" in keeping the bus upright after it was struck by both cars. Only one minor injury, a broken ankle, was reported among the 45 passengers on the bus, the police said.
The 10:35 a.m. crash was similar to one that killed five people Friday near Perryville on I-95 in Cecil County, said state police at the John F. Kennedy Highway barracks. In both accidents, cars traveling south crossed grassy medians with no barriers and collided with vehicles traveling in the northbound lanes.
Despite the similarities and the proximity of the accidents, that section of the interstate is not a particularly bad one, said state police Cpl. Richard Jackson. However, he said, "any section of highway can be bad if people drive bad."
In yesterday's accident, a southbound Ford Probe crossed the 15-foot-wide median and struck an oncoming Chevrolet Celebrity, Corporal Jackson said. Both cars then struck the bus, which went off the road and down an embankment, coming to a stop upright against a stand of trees.
"It was like an earthquake -- you didn't know what happened until it was over," said Mary Bolton, a chaperon for the students from the Holy Cross Junior High School in Santa Cruz, Calif. "We were just so lucky."
Chief Michael E. Bennett of the Aberdeen Volunteer Fire Company said two passengers in the Chevrolet, Georgiana Voight, 76, of Queens Village, N.Y., and her grandson, John Charles Hinojosa, 22, of Herndon, Va., were killed instantly.
Mrs. Voight's husband, Arthur Voight, 78, who had been driving the Chevrolet, was trapped in the car for about 20 minutes. He was flown by state police helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where his condition was critical and unstable last night.
The Ford's driver, Anthony William Haywood Sr., 22, of Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore, also was flown to Shock Trauma, where he was reported in stable condition last night. His 18-month-old son, Anthony Jr. of Philadelphia, who was in a child seat that police said had been improperly used, was thrown from the car. He later died at Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace.
Chief Bennett said there could have been more injuries among the bus passengers if the driver had not kept the bus from rolling over as it went off the highway and down the embankment. A 10-year-old was taken to Harford Memorial with a broken ankle, Chief Bennett said. "This bus driver did a sterling job keeping the bus upright," the chief said.
Ms. Bolton, the chaperon, said the students had flown to Washington on Wednesday as part of their school's American Christian Tours program. The group was traveling by bus to Philadelphia and then to New York City, where they were to leave today by plane for California, Ms. Bolton said.
One student said that many of the passengers were sleeping at the time of the collision but were awakened when the cars struck the bus. "We saw the cars flying by us and everything," said Michael Riese, an eighth-grader. "It went by too quickly to get scared."
The accident snarled traffic for more than two hours on the three northbound lanes of the interstate from the Aberdeen interchange to the Maryland House rest stop, about five miles away, the police said. Southbound traffic also was delayed as motorists slowed to look at the wreckage.
Before Friday, the last accident with a fatality on I-95 in Harford County took place Dec. 23, 1990, according to state police. Two people died in accidents on the Harford section of the highway last year.
Alan Craver is a reporter for the Harford County Sun, a zoned edition of The Baltimore Sun.