Mourning a son who 'went his own way' 14-year-old boy dies in crash of speeding car

June 19, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

When Stephen Lurie, a Pikesville Middle School eighth-grader, was caught smoking marijuana or joy riding in his mother's car, he sloughed it off, saying he liked "being hyper" and was bored with his daily routine.

So when his mother, Suzanne Lurie, answered her front door at 5 a.m. yesterday and saw two Baltimore County police officers, she thought they would tell her that he was being held in a juvenile detention home. Instead, they said her only son died when he smashed her 1988 Chevrolet Corsica into a tree off Park Heights Avenue. He was 14.

"He just never understood the consequences of his actions," Lurie said later, sitting on the floor of her Wimbledon Lane townhouse. "Many people besides me tried to help him. But he just refused and went his own way."

Stephen, described by his mother as popular but hard to handle, had been confined to his home while awaiting trial on a charge of passing a bad check. And he knew that if he was caught doing something illegal again, he would be sent to a juvenile detention center, his mother said.

But apparently, he drove away sometime after she went to sleep Monday night.

Police said that at 2: 20 a.m., Stephen was driving the Corsica with three teen-age passengers through a Pikesville neighborhood when a security guard saw him squealing the car's tires on Michelle Way. The guard followed and saw the car pull into a driveway, where the passengers bailed out.

The guard called police as the Corsica plowed across a lawn and back onto Michelle Way.

An officer saw Stephen heading south on Park Heights Avenue with the headlights off, and followed him to the parking lot of Beth El Synagogue at the Beltway, losing sight of him in the parking lot. The officer saw Lurie as he sped north on Park Heights.

The officer, who was not using lights, sirens or speeding, then lost sight of the car again, said police spokesman Bill Toohey.

The accident report said Stephen was speeding on the wet road when he lost control in the 8500 block of Park Heights Ave., four blocks north of the synagogue. The car split when it hit the tree and front half rolled over with the youth inside.

"My car was just crunched," his mother said, her eyes red from crying. "Everyone wants to know if I am going to have an open casket. I don't know. I don't know what he looks like. No matter what, it might be better to have an open casket so kids could see what he looks like and see what can happen. Kids think they are indestructible. He thought nothing bad would ever happen to him."

Stephen's problems began in the seventh grade, his mother said. He hung out with the wrong crowd, including a man who got him to take a stolen check to the bank and cash it. He was caught and was being confined to his home until his trial, she said.

Lurie, who works as the secretary to the chief of surgery at Sinai Hospital and has a 9-year-old daughter, said she battled constantly with her son.

She forced him into drug treatment programs and went to family therapy. During therapy, she found out that although Stephen was 7 when his father died of cancer, he had no memory of their close relationship. She said she tried to convince him that he was heading in the wrong direction.

"Some of his problems were his personality and then it was the death of his father and peer pressure," she said. "He just started a new drug treatment program, but he said he didn't need it."

Pub Date: 6/19/96

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