Six people, including three children, were killed and three others injured last night in a four-car crash on Md. 6 in Charles County.
Deputy First Class Chris Becker of the county sheriff's department said it took rescue workers more than 30 minutes to cut three of the dead from the car in which they were riding.
Becker said Ernest Knight, 27, a lumber company employee from Nanjemoy, was driving a 1978 Cadillac west on Md. 6 about 6:15 p.m. when he crossed the center line after he came over a hill about a quarter-mile west of Scott's store in Welcome.
Becker said Knight, who was on his way home from work, was driving about 80 mph.
The Cadillac sideswiped an eastbound Pontiac driven by Rebecca Slaughter, 32, of LaPlata, whose daughter, Crystal, was a passenger, Becker said. The impact forced the Pontiac off the road and down an embankment, he said.
The Slaughters survived. They were treated at Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton for undisclosed injuries and released.
Becker said that after sideswiping the Slaughters' Pontiac, Knight continued for a short distance before his Cadillac crashed head-on into an eastbound Nissan driven by Tresa Mae Keys, 30, of Nanjemoy.
Riding with Keys were her boyfriend, Glenn Carroll, 35; their children, Glynielle Carroll, 2, and Sharnelle T. Carroll, 7; and Glenn Carroll's nephew, James D. Carroll, 8.
The impact crushed both cars and killed everyone in them. Knight, Keys, Glenn Carroll and Glynielle Carroll were pronounced dead at the scene. Sharnelle Carroll and James Carroll died a short time later at Physicians Memorial Hospital in LaPlata.
Seconds after that crash, an eastbound 1983 Honda driven by Susan Jackson, 22, of LaPlata, crashed into the rear of Keys' Nissan, Becker said.
Jackson was taken to the Southern Maryland Hospital Center, where she was admitted with undisclosed injuries. She was listed in satisfactory condition today.
Becker said Knight, Keys and Glenn Carroll were not wearing seat belts. Because of the extensive damage to the Nissan, he was not able to determine whether Sharnelle and James were wearing seat belts, or whether Glynielle was in a child's safety seat.
The deputy said everyone in the Nissan was trapped by twisted metal and the roof, which collapsed when the vehicle overturned.
Becker said it took more than 30 minutes to cut the two adults and Glynielle out of the Nissan. He and other rescue workers pulled Sharnelle and James from the demolished car.
The deputy said Knight was crushed when the floor of his Cadillac buckled, and the entire front end was pushed into the driver's seat.
Becker said there were no skid marks to indicate that Knight applied his brakes. An autopsy on Knight was to be performed at the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore to determine whether alcohol or drugs contributed to the collision.
Charles County school officials put crisis management plans into effect at three schools today.
The tragedy has left the community and students "distraught," said county school spokesman Linda Dent-Brown. "That area of the county is particularly . . . tight-knit . . . many of the kids are related" to the accident victims.
Sharnelle Carroll and James Carroll were enrolled at the 400-student Mount Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, in Nanjemoy, where psychologists and school personnel were busy today helping students deal with the deaths.
Dent-Brown said the Carroll children had other siblings attending the General Smallwood Middle School and Lackey High School, both in Indian Head.
Also, Crystal Slaughter is a seventh-grader at General Smallwood, and Ernest Knight is believed to have family members in one or more of the same schools.
"The staff and students were very deeply affected by this," Dent-Brown said. "It is going very well and is helping the students and the related community work through this."