Driver in crash that killed 5 at bus stop indicted

September 08, 1995|By Jay Apperson and Elaine Tassy | Jay Apperson and Elaine Tassy,Sun Staff Writers

The driver in a July car crash that killed a mother and four children from Woodlawn -- plunging many in the Baltimore area into mourning -- was indicted yesterday on manslaughter charges.

The indictment by a Baltimore County grand jury charges Raymond Charles Haney with five counts of automobile manslaughter and with traffic charges that include speeding, reckless driving and making an unsafe lane change. Each manslaughter count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors said arrangements were being made yesterday for the 32-year-old county man to turn himself in. Mr. Haney was in Chicago and will return to Maryland to turn himself in today or Monday, his lawyer said.

"He seemed to be in OK spirits," attorney Warren A. Brown said after speaking on the phone to Mr. Haney. He said he had told his client to expect an indictment, given the high-profile nature of the case.

Although prosecutors "might be on the fence," they have to "be on the side of bringing it to court and letting a body of 12 decide," Mr. Brown said. His client, he added, will be prepared to post a pre-set bail of $10,000 and gain an almost immediate release from custody to await trial.

Patricia Coby, Mr. Haney's 28-year-old girlfriend and the mother of his two young daughters, said he quit his jobs at a Reisterstown nursing home and a fast food restaurant, and has been staying with family in Chicago. He was to start a new job there yesterday, she said.

She said she had been hoping the manslaughter charges would not be pursued.

"We don't want to take away any grief from the other families, but it's not going to bring back the other families by giving him 50 years for an accident," she said. "Throwing him in jail, giving him prison time is not going to serve a purpose because he's suffering enough mentally."

But Charles Dorsey IV, who lost his wife and two children, never doubted that manslaughter charges would be brought against Mr. Haney.

"His reckless driving, it could have been prevented," Mr. Dorsey said. "Everyone that wants to drive fast -- should that not be punished? My family had to pay the price, and I have to deal with that every day."

The children killed in the crash were singing songs at a bus stop on Woodlawn Drive near the Social Security Administration complex just before the July 20 accident. Mr. Haney, apparently on his way to work in Reisterstown, was driving a red 1988 Mazda MX6 that careened through the bus stop, leaving a trail of carnage that shook even the most hardened rescue workers.

Killed were Kim Linair Dorsey, 25; her daughters Keisha, 7, and Chanel, 3; her niece, Jazmin Little, 5, and her nephew, Darrian Hough, 8. Another of Mr. Dorsey's children, Charles "Chas" Edgar Dorsey V, was critically injured but survived.

The crash, among Maryland's most deadly in recent years, seemed to tear at the region. The grassy hillside where the crash occurred became an impromptu shrine, with friends and strangers coming in a steady stream to leave flowers and mementos ranging from stuffed teddy bears to family portraits to baseball cards.

The joint funeral six days later attracted hundreds of mourners, including politicians, friends and strangers who were moved and sobered by the reminder of how lives can be lost in an instant.

An investigation by county police culminated last week in a report more than 80 pages long that was delivered to prosecutors.

The lead investigator said he found no reason to dispute witness accounts that Mr. Haney was driving about 50 mph before the pedestrians were struck. The speed limit near the accident scene is 30 mph.

The investigator, Officer Patrick H. Zito, said a reconstruction of the accident scene also verified witness accounts that Mr. Haney's car hit another car, veered to the right and jumped a curb before plowing through the bus stop.

Police have refused to make that report public. Prosecutors yesterday would not comment on the case.

To prove a driver guilty of manslaughter, prosecutors must establish that he acted with "gross negligence that rises to a wanton disregard for human life," Baltimore County State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor said after the crash. "It is someone who is acting in such a reckless manner that the law infers from their actions that they were operating in a total disregard for human life," she said then.

Mr. Haney, who was unhurt in the accident, took a Breathalyzer )) test that registered a blood alcohol level of zero, police said. Investigators reported no signs that Mr. Haney was impaired by drugs.

Police said Mr. Haney told them he was cut off by another car. After being read his legal rights by police, he declined to say anything else.

Mr. Brown, the defense lawyer, predicted yesterday that his client would be found not guilty on the manslaughter charges.

"I don't think his action rises to the level of wanton and reckless disregard for human life. That's ridiculous. He's doing no more than any of us do out there," Mr. Brown said.

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