Friend's death spurs children to lobby legislators

February 13, 1994|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Sun Staff Writer

Annie Davis' friends miss her smile and her words of encouragement.

Most of all, though, they miss her laugh and her independent spirit.

If some grown-up order seemed foolish, Annie might say, "Moo." For some reason, she had a girlish thing about cows -- but the word "moo" was also a polite form of protest.

Classmates giggled, and adults were indulgent. No one worked harder than Annie, had more promise or more respect.

And then she was gone.

Anne Kristen Davis, barely 12, died Oct. 30 of injuries suffered the day before in an automobile accident. Her mother's minivan was rammed by a Ford pickup east of Annapolis.

The pickup, police say, hit the van broadside after its driver did not to obey a stop sign. Thomas Francis George, 61, has been indicted on charges of automobile manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police say Mr. George, who refused to take a blood alcohol test, "volunteered" to an officer that he had had "a few beers" that afternoon. A cooler and beer cans were found in and around the truck, police said.

Mr. George, whose state driving record shows no offenses, said by telephone Friday that he has not entered a plea to the charges. He declined further comment.

His trial is set for March 29, but the 1,100 children of Magothy River Middle School, their parents and teachers are not waiting for a day in court.

Two of Annie's classmates -- including one who survived the crash -- are taking their case to the General Assembly. They have heard the assertion that Maryland's drunken driving laws are among the nation's toughest.

Their response is, "Moo."

They will ask the assembly to take another look at drunken driving laws.

On Wednesday, they will testify before a Senate committee in favor of a bill that will set conditions under which suspected drunken drivers must submit to blood alcohol tests.

They have won the support of Anne Arundel County senators and delegates, who met recently with a group including Annie's friend, 12-year-old Erin Scheide, and Annie's mother, Susan Ann Edkins.

"It seems as if when you refuse to do everything a police officer tells you to do, you stand a better chance of not being punished or being punished to a lesser degree," said Erin.

Mrs. Edkins said, "What are we teaching our children about consequences of their actions? People make choices when they get behind the wheel of a car. It is no accident when they do this, and the ripple-down effect of shattered lives, of hopes and dreams for the victims is unfair."

Driving home

Mrs. Edkins had been driving the family's van home from McDonald's. Annie and her friends, Valerie Edwards and Cassie Weitzen, were riding in the middle seats.

They had been to see Annie's 9-year-old brother, Drew, a center for the Cape St. Claire Cougars, in a football game. Annie had made banners for the team's homecoming.

The collision occurred at the corner of Cape St. Claire Road and Busch's Frontage Road about 8:30 p.m. when the pickup came along Busch's Frontage Road parallel to U.S. 50. Heidi Montgomery, a beautician, riding in a car behind the van, heard a tremendous boom and saw the two vehicles spin ahead of her. She called 911 on her car phone.

The van plunged off the road, down an embankment and hung precariously over a culvert.

The children were thrown together, trapped in a rubble of broken glass and twisted metal. Valerie had a broken collar bone and Cassie a broken pelvis. Annie, who had been seated between her friends, was unconscious and bleeding.

"I don't think she's breathing," Cassie said.

'Help the children'

They heard Mrs. Edkins, outside the van by then, screaming for )) help.

"Help the children. Help the children. The children are dying!"

Valerie remembers wondering if there was some way to make the flashing lights and screaming and worry about Annie go away.

"I just thought maybe I could go to sleep," she told Diane Bragdon, one of her teachers at Magothy River.

Mrs. Edkins had suffered a concussion and temporary loss of memory, so 11-year-old Cassie, who appeared to be the least seriously injured, gave police all the important telephone numbers.

Four helicopters flew to the accident scene. Three took the girls to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The other took Mrs. Edkins to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Mrs. Edkins' husband, Alan, had remained at the football field not far from the accident scene. Later, he remembered hearing the helicopters come and go. When his wife and Annie were not at home when he got there, he assumed they had stopped to visit friends.

Then the police called.

No hope

He was told he should go to Hopkins first because Annie was in such critical condition.

Mrs. Edkins was not able to go to Hopkins until the next morning. She was taken there with blood and glass still in her hair. An intensive care nurse herself for 20 years, she knew there was no hope as soon as she saw her child.

"She was not my daughter any more. She was gone," Mrs. Edkins says.

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