Driver shorn of license causes 2-death crash BALTIMORE COUNTY

March 25, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

James Brian Distler didn't have a driver's license and was awaiting trial on a charge of drunken driving when his 1983 Toyota Celica slammed head-on into a 1981 Mercury Zephyr yesterday morning, killing him and a 24-year-old mother of two.

Mr. Distler, a 30-year-old restaurant worker, was alone in his car when it crossed the center line in the 1500 block of Rolling Road and had a devastating impact on a Columbia family traveling in the other vehicle.

Chante S. Wilson died; Eric C. Miles, 27, was in critical condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center; their 18-month-old son, Daris Shawn Miles, was in good condition, and 5-year-old daughter, Erica Miles, in fair condition at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center last night.

Baltimore County police said last night that alcohol may have been involved in the 7 a.m. accident.

"We were told by the medical examiner's office that there was a strong odor of alcohol" on Mr. Distler's body, said Lt. Minda Foxwell of the county's western traffic investigation unit.

"He shouldn't have been on the road," Carol Demby, a state Motor Vehicles Administration spokesman, said of Mr. Distler. "His license was revoked."

Mr. Distler lost his license last year for a 1991 drunken-driving conviction.

Last summer, Distler was accused of driving drunk while his license was still revoked.

At the time of yesterday's crash, said Officer Roy Jarrell, Mr. Distler "was coming up at a high rate of speed, and he just veered into the other lane. It's a mystery why he did it. It's weird right now."

John Yancey, a Catonsville resident, was driving beside the Miles car when the crash occurred. He said it appeared as if Mr. Distler had deliberately crossed the center lane.

"It looked like it was intentional," said Mr. Yancey. "He made no effort to avoid" the crash.

Officer Jarrell said he doubted that Mr. Distler had crossed the center line intentionally.

"It may be alcohol-related, or he may have just fallen asleep," the officer said.

Investigators tried to determine where Mr. Distler had been before the accident.

He lived in Essex, but worked at the Shoney's Restaurant in Westminster. He left work about 1 a.m. Wednesday but didn't go home, said Officer Jarrell.

Dr. John Smialek, the state medical examiner, said blood-alcohol tests would be finished today.

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