Seven teen-agers were thrown from a pickup truck early yesterday when its 18-year-old driver missed a curve on a winding Ellicott City road, careened down a hill and crashed into two trees, Howard County police reported.
Four other youths riding in the cab with the driver were hurt when the pickup flipped over about 2 a.m. near the bottom of a grassy slope. County police called it "a miracle" that none of the 12 youths was seriously injured.
Police said that the truck full of teen-agers was speeding along College Avenue, just north of Bonnie Branch Road, when the driver failed to negotiate a curve.
When the driver missed the curve, the pickup hurtled down the hill, overturned and landed on its right side, police said. One of the seven passengers on the truck bed was briefly trapped under the pickup until the other passengers righted the truck, police said.
The driver, David Pearson, of the 2500 block of Farm Road in Ellicott City, was cited with failing to reduce speed on a curve, negligent and reckless driving and violating a license restriction that prohibited him from driving after midnight, police said. The speed limit at the curve is 30 mph, police said.
College Avenue, a narrow road above Ellicott City's historic district, is a favorite spot for youths to "hill hop," or speed up and down the hills to simulate a roller-coaster ride, said Sgt. Gary Gardner, a police spokesman.
The accident was similar to a crash in Anne Arundel County in April 1979 in which seven high school students were flung from the back of a speeding pickup. Only two of the 12 teen-agers survived after the truck landed upside-down.
"It's absolutely a miracle that we didn't have something like that," Sergeant Gardner said. "With seven people being ejected from the back, they're very, very fortunate."
The 1979 tragedy, one of the worst single-vehicle accidents in the nation's history, prompted the Maryland General Assembly to consider legislation to prohibit passengers from riding in the .. open beds of pickup trucks. But the law wasn't passed, Sergeant Gardner said.
All of the youths in yesterday's Ellicott City accident were back home yesterday afternoon. Two 15-year-old girls from Ellicott City, Tanya Lilly and Kimberly Grim, had been flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore and released a few hours later. The others had been treated for cuts and bruises at Howard County General Hospital and St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, police said.