Tragedy in Woodlawn

July 21, 1995

It is so hard to comprehend. Four youngsters, ages 3 to 8, and one adult killed at a bus stop by a runaway sports car near the headquarters of the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn. Such a senseless accident, with innocent children bearing the brunt of the impact. It is another reminder that life's end can come at any moment, without warning. Sometimes there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Accidental death snatches young people prematurely in so many forms, but the circumstances many times seem bizarre, or at least beyond the comforting boundaries of most people's typical everyday existence -- drug abuse, drive-by shootings, a mother drowning her children. But there is no indemnity against unfathomable fate, against being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As details trickled out, yesterday's story became more wrenching: A 25-year-old woman and two of her children were killed. The woman's sister standing nearby managed to grab one of her children and jump out of the way, but two of her children were killed. A fifth child and another adult were also injured.

Baltimore County police are continuing their investigation, but they believe that the driver was traveling at least 50 miles per hour in a 30-mph zone. The accident is already heightening attention on what for many Marylanders seems to be a greater recklessness on the road, from wild lane changes to tailgating to passing on the shoulders of the interstates -- and always with flagrant disregard for legal speed limits.

The Sun's police reporter, Peter Hermann, said he was most struck by the eerie serenity of the scene at Woodlawn, even as investigators combed the carnage. It was a deceptive calm. For family members trying to come to grips with the sudden loss of loved ones so young, we extend our sympathies and our prayers. Fate has delivered them a heart-wrenching blow. All of us in the community share their pain.

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