Three teen-agers from Edgemere die in car crash Speeding blamed for fatal accident

November 03, 1991|By JoAnna Daemmrich

An article in yesterday's late editions of The Sun incorrectly reported the hospital where one of three teen-aged Edgemere auto accident victims died on Saturday. The youth, Kevin Matthews, was pronounced dead at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

They were the best of friends. Growing up on the same block in Edgemere, they went to school together, played football in the street and spent their summers fixing up old cars.

Early yesterday, the three teen-age boys from Estelle Avenue went on their last ride. Speeding down a wet, narrow road to Fort Howard Park, they missed a curve, careened into a ditch and smashed into a telephone pole shortly before 1 a.m.


Seventeen-year-old Joseph Mongan and 18-year-old Andrew Lawson were killed instantly.

Their buddy and next-door neighbor, 18-year-old Kevin Matthews, died soon after his arrival at Franklin Square Hospital, Baltimore County police said.

The tragedy shocked and saddened high school friends and neighbors in Edgemere, a small, close-knit community on a marshy peninsula between the Patapsco and Back rivers.

While the families made funeral arrangements yesterday, grieving neighbors ordered flowers, and friends gathered at a nearby home to reminisce and look through old school yearbooks.

"All the boys grew up together. They were like brothers," said Joseph's father, Detective John Mongan, a 22-year veteran of the county police force. "They were in and out of each other's houses all the time."

Choking back tears, 18-year-old Wade Stark, who went to Sparrows Point High School with the youths, remembered the good times he had with Joseph, Andrew and Kevin. They liked to cruise the malls on weekends and go for long rides. Sometimes, they drove a little too fast, Wade said, but they always seemed in control.

"I just can't believe it," he said.

Wade and his 16-year-old brother, Norman, went bowling with Andrew earlier in the evening. Andrew waved good-bye about 11 p.m. to meet up with Joseph and Kevin, who were volunteering at the Edgemere Recreation Council's annual haunted dungeon in Fort Howard Park at the southern tip of the peninsula.

After stopping for a snack at a Wendy's restaurant, the three tTC friends apparently decided to head back to the park for the traditional bonfire that capped the Halloween fund-raiser, Mr. Mongan said.

Joseph had borrowed his parents' 1978 Mercury Zephyr station wagon to take home some props from the haunted house, his father said.

Joseph apparently was driving so fast on rain-slick Old North Point Road that he couldn't negotiate a sharp curve near Wood Avenue, police said.

The Stark brothers -- who recalled Joseph talking at times about the thrill of driving fast -- said they heard through neighborhood gossip that he was driving at 80 to 100 mph when the crash occurred.

But police would not confirm that, saying only that Joseph was driving at an "excessive speed," well above the posted limit of 40 mph.

Detective Mongan, who was in Ocean City with his wife at the time of the crash, said Joseph had never been in a car accident before, or even received a speeding ticket. "He's never had any problems, not to my knowledge," Mr. Mongan said last night.

When county officers arrived at the accident scene about 12:55 a.m., they saw the car wrapped around a telephone pole, said Cpl. John O'Brien, a police spokesman.

Joseph was pulled from the driver's seat and Andrew from the back seat. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Kevin, in the front passenger seat, was taken by ambulance to Franklin Square Hospital.

Investigators, who said none of the youths was drinking or under the influence of drugs, blamed the crash on speed and driver error.

"It was just a regular night. They were going out riding like they do," Wade Stark said. "They were just going to Fort Howard . . . and they, uh, they just died."

Sitting on a couch with his brother and a friend, Jeff Darchicourt, Wade picked up a picture of Andrew, the older of the three buddies. It was taken during senior week two years ago, just before Andrew graduated from Sparrows Point. In the photograph, Andrew is smiling broadly and and tipping back his blue baseball cap.

"He was a pretty good athlete. He was on the baseball team through high school, and he had a good throw," Norman Stark said.

Eleven-year-old Justin Jones, who lives two doors from the Lawson home, cried as he talked about Andrew, who was "like a big brother" to him.

Andrew taught him how to bat and played catch with him in the summers, Justin said. Only a few days ago, the two of them had played with a "screamer" football that screeches when it's thrown, he said.

"He was the best thrower," Justin said. "He really got it to make noise."

Although Andrew visited most frequently, all three youths had looked after her younger children, Justin's mother, Linda Jones, said.

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