Driver's sister among 3 killed in crash Mount Airy youth charged in deaths

June 08, 1993|By Darren M. Allen and Frank Langfitt | Darren M. Allen and Frank Langfitt,Staff Writers Staff writers Anne Haddad, Traci Johnson and Bill Talbott contributed to this article.

The unlicensed 16-year-old boy behind the wheel of a stolen car that crashed near Eldersburg Sunday morning is the brother of one of the three high school students who died in the accident, according to state police records obtained by The Sun.

The Mount Airy youth was charged as a juvenile with three counts of homicide by automobile while intoxicated and seven related counts. He will remain in state Department of Juvenile Services custody.

His sister -- fellow South Carroll High School freshman Donna M. Simms -- was among the three teen-agers killed in the crash. The other five youngsters in the car received varying degrees of injuries.

A ruling by Carroll County Juvenile Master Peter M. Tabatsko yesterday will keep the driver and 16- and 17-year old youths from Gaithersburg who also are charged in the accident under "some form of detention," said Assistant State's Attorney Erin Danz.

Ms. Danz and State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman said they will seek to transfer the driver's case -- which also includes charges of drunken driving, car theft, speeding, reckless driving and driving without a license -- to Carroll Circuit Court, where the youth would face adult charges. That process could take up to two months, the prosecutor said.

The Sun is withholding the names of the three youths charged in the accidentbecause their cases are pending in the juvenile system.

Ms. Danz, who prosecutes juveniles, would not say what type of detention was imposed on the three youths. "All I can tell you is that they were all detained in some form," Ms. Danz said. "They're certainly not free to come and go as they please."

The prosecutors said they have not decided whether to seek transfers of the cases against the Gaithersburg youths, each of whom has been charged as a juvenile with auto theft and possession of alcohol.

Police say the 16-year-old Mount Airy boy was driving a stolen 1991 Toyota Corolla east on Liberty Road at 1:47 a.m. Sunday at speeds up to 110 mph when he lost control near Liberty Reservoir. Killed in the resulting crash -- all of them 15 years old -- were the driver's sister and Dink Diggs, both of Mount Airy and freshmen at South Carroll High, and Christopher Norris of Marriottsville, a freshman at Glenelg High School in Howard County.

In all, six of the car's eight occupants -- none older than 17 -- were thrown from the car as it spun out of control, slid backward into a guardrail, flipped and came to rest on its roof near the Carroll-Baltimore County line.

All three youths charged in the accident were treated at hospitals in Carroll and Baltimore counties. Two 15-year-old sisters were seriously injured in the accident. Melissa D. and Angela N. Costley of Gaithersburg were listed in fair condition last night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

In western Howard County yesterday, friends and family recalled Christopher Norris as a kind, helpful boy, who mowed an elderly neighbor's grass and shoveled snow from people's walks for free.

"You couldn't find a better boy than Chris," said his maternal grandmother, Mary-Louise Spencer.

She said she was surprised by the circumstances of her grandson's death. "Chris doesn't generally do things like that," she said.

Ms. Spencer said Christopher was a common thread between many of the teen-agers who were in the car.

She said his mother and stepfather live in rural Howard County, ** but he spent weekends with his grandparents in Mount Airy. Dink Diggs was his neighbor there. The Costley sisters are Christopher's cousins. The youth who was driving the car, and his sister, who died in the accident, attended church with Christopher at Warren United Methodist Church in Mount Airy.

Dink's mother, Patsy Stallings Diggs, said that Christopher was a constant presence in her home.

"Chris and Dink grew up together, they went to day care together, they shopped together and, of course, you know, they died together," Miss Stallings Diggs said. "You couldn't ask for a better kid for your kid to be friends with."

Miss Stallings Diggs said she didn't know how the teen-agers got alcohol. "I have no idea how they got it, but believe me, I will find out."

Students and staff at South Carroll High School seemed subdued and in shock yesterday at the deaths of their classmates.

"It was very quiet," said Stacy Livesay, a junior who lives in Sykesville. "One day you see somebody at school and the next day they're gone."

Throughout the day, dozens of the teen-agers' friends sought help to cope with their grief and confusion from a team of crisis counselors, psychologists and pupil workers who were brought to the school.

Robert Thacker, a pupil worker, said about 80 students talked with the counselors.

"Often, they wanted to talk about their friends that were involved," he said. "We've discussed their relationships with their peers and encouraged them to look at the positive relationships they had."

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