Driver admits drunkenness, guilt in fatal crash

January 06, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A Davidsonville man admitted yesterday that he had bee drinking before he got behind the wheel of his truck and had an accident last summer that killed his best friend.

Robert F. Beall Jr., 22, of Birdsville Road pleaded guilty yesterday before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge H. Chester Goudy to driving while intoxicated and negligent driving in a July 11 accident that killed Robert J. Suit Jr., 21, of Davidsonville.

Judge Goudy agreed to sentence Beall to a six-month suspended prison term, 40 hours of community service and a $500 fine -- the conditions of a plea agreement negotiated by the prosecutor and Beall's attorney, Michael Gilligan.

Beall, a graduate of South River High School who drives a truck for his father's company, R. F. Beall Construction Co., also was sentenced to five years' probation as part of the agreement.

Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone said he agreed to the sentence because the victim's family did not want Beall to go to prison.

"I think they recognized that this accident killed Mr. Beall's best friend, that this was a tragedy for everyone involved and that it would have served no purpose to send him to jail," Mr. Paone said.

He said that the two men had been baling hay on South County farms just before the accident.

"It was the kind of thing where they baled some hay, drank some beer, baled some hay, drank some beer, and worked the day like that," he said.

Beall was westbound on Mount Airy Road near Davidsonville Road in Davidsonville shortly before 8 p.m. when the accident occurred, according to a statement read into the court record yesterday.

The truck ran off the road and traveled parallel to it for about 100 yards before pulling back onto the pavement. The victim was thrown from the vehicle and crushed when the truck rolled over, according to the statement.

Mr. Paone said there was some evidence indicating Beall was not driving that recklessly when he lost control. Evidence gathered by an accident reconstruction specialist was "not inconsistent" with Beall's statements that he swerved to avoid hitting an animal when he left the highway, Mr. Paone said.

He said that accident reconstruction specialists for the prosecution would have testified that Beall was traveling at 45 mph when the accident occurred and that a reconstruction specialist hired by the defense would have testified he was traveling between 35 and 40 mph, Mr. Paone said. The speed limit is 35 mph.

"The point is that he wasn't driving like a maniac," the prosecutor said.

Mr. Paone said that the police officers responding to the scene didn't believe Beall was drunk, and only administered a Breathalyzer test because they are routinely given in fatal car accidents. Beall scored a .10, proof of intoxication under state law.

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