Schmoke kin reportedly dies in S. Africa crash

April 05, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's 25-year-old stepbrother was believed to have been killed yesterday in a traffic accident in South Africa, where he had been working as a schoolteacher, according to South African authorities.

Murray Alexander Schmoke Jr. was reportedly killed between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. EDT after a taxi van in which he was riding went out of control and overturned on a highway between Pretoria and Pietersburg, according to Clint Coleman, press secretary to Mayor Schmoke.

That information was received by the mayor's chief of staff about 3 p.m. in a phone call from officials at Pax College in Pietersburg, Mr. Coleman said. Murray Schmoke had been a volunteer teacher at the college since going to South Africa in January, he said.

The 44-year-old mayor was at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for Opening Day and left there upon hearing the news.

"The mayor and his brother are very close," Mr. Coleman said. "He and his family are very shaken by this."

The mayor's staff attempted to contact South African authorities yesterday but were unable to get any information on the death. Police reported that a major accident involving a taxi had occurred outside Pretoria, but they said Murray Schmoke was not on their list of victims.

However, an official at the state mortuary in Pretoria confirmed late last night that Murray Schmoke's body was there. His name was obtained through his U.S. passport, which he was carrying at the time of his death, the official said.

He said the cause of death was injuries sustained in a vehicular accident.

A 1993 graduate of Morehouse College, Murray Schmoke had gone to South Africa to work as a teacher at the private college. He had been teaching English, said Mr. Coleman.

Details on the accident were very sketchy last night. Police outside Pretoria said there had been a fatal accident involving a taxi carrying 15 people.

Several people died in that crash, although an exact account wasn't available last night, police said.

The day after Easter is a holiday in South Africa, and roads were busy yesterday. Traffic fatalities per capita are extremely high there, especially those involving taxis.

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