Three families mourn lost potential of sons Car slams into a tree on UM campus

August 18, 1993|By David Michael Ettlin and Gary Gately | David Michael Ettlin and Gary Gately,Staff Writers Staff writers Lan Nguyen, Shanon D. Murray, Norris P. West and Michael James contributed to this article.

Three young men -- a once-promising athlete, a gifted student and an only child -- were killed early yesterday when a car slammed into a tree and a telephone pole on the University of Maryland's College Park campus.

University police said it was the first fatal traffic accident on campus since 1979, and apparently the worst ever in terms of loss of life.

The victims were Arthur Henry Clark Jr., 21, a former star football player at Howard County's Oakland Mills High School, and two friends he was driving after a birthday party in a nearby university apartment, David Kareen Chisholm, 21, of Silver Spring, and Shawn Maurice Evans, 25, of Adelphi.

Mr. Chisholm was a junior studying accounting -- a student with a 3.5 grade point average who had turned down basketball scholarships at other schools to remain close to home, according to his father, retired District of Columbia police officer Richard Bryant.

Mr. Evans' family said he was an only child, and not a university student, and would not talk about him or the accident yesterday. "His mother is really heartbroken about it and doesn't want to discuss it. They just want to get over the loss," a family friend said.

"Archie" Clark was the youngest of four children reared by his mother. He played football well enough to win a scholarship and became the first in his family to attend college.

But at College Park, Mr. Clark ran into troubles -- a knee injury kept him from playing football as a freshman, and when academic deficiencies knocked him off the team, he also lost the scholarship.

Yesterday, in the West Baltimore apartment where she had moved from Columbia, his mother, Johnetta Clark, 45, wept for her son.

"He was the baby of the family," she said, sitting on an ancient yellow couch, consoled by about 20 friends and relatives. "He was the first that ever made it. He was history for our family, and now it's all gone. He inspired the whole family."

Mr. Clark played linebacker and quarterback for Oakland Mills High School in Columbia and showed such promise that he was contacted by recruiters from UCLA, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Colorado.

Ken Klock, his football coach in high school, said that even three years after his graduation Archie Clark's name still strikes awe among the current crop of players, who gaze at the trophy case and remember stories of his prowess on the field.

But the coach remembered his former star more for what he did off the field.

"He was one of the finest young men I ever had the privilege of working with," said Mr. Klock. "He always had a smile. He was loved by everybody."

Those who knew him best recalled a young man who was as gentle off the field as he was tough on it. "Puppy," friends and family called the strapping former football player, who stood 6-foot-4 and weighed about 240.

"That's because he was so gentle," said his friend and college classmate, Shawn Long, a senior studying criminal justice. "He was the type of guy that would take his shirt off and give it to you if you needed it. There wasn't a thing he wouldn't do for a friend."

Birthday party

Just after midnight yesterday, Mr. Clark left a birthday party at the university apartment in the Leonardtown complex, telling friends he had to drop others off at the campus but would return within a half hour, Mr. Long said.

A gold Nissan Stanza -- owned by Mr. Clark's girlfriend, Michelle A. Pilgrim -- was seen speeding toward campus on Metzerott Road and crossing a double-yellow line as it passed a car driven by an off-duty Washington police officer.

A short distance away, the officer caught up with the Nissan -- its frame wrapped around the telephone pole on Paint Branch Drive near Parking Lot 11, at the northern edge of the campus.

Mr. Clark and Mr. Chisholm, who was riding in the back seat without using safety restraints, were pronounced dead at the scene. Mr. Evans, in the front passenger seat and, like Mr. Clark, using the Nissan's passive safety-belt system, was pronounced dead later at Prince George's General Hospital.

The bodies were taken to the state medical examiner's office. Laboratory tests to determine whether alcohol or drugs were used were incomplete, authorities said.

Driving record

According to District Court and Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration records, Mr. Clark was driving on a suspended license resulting in part from tickets he received in two traffic stops in May 1992.

He was cited for driving without a license after being stopped on the UM campus at 3 a.m. on May 3, 1992, in a 1984 Audi with New York license tags. That May 27, he was stopped in the same car in Adelphi and handed two tickets -- another for driving without a license and one for giving a false and fictitious name to a uniformed officer.

Mr. Clark was fined $260 for each ticket, but did not pay the penalty or appear for two court dates on Aug. 7 and Sept. 25 last year. An MVA official said his license was suspended Oct. 10 because of his failure to appear in court.

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