A Westminster hairdresser and mother and an Eldersburg businessman and father died in a head-on collision at 7: 50 a.m. yesterday near Finksburg, part of a string of accidents involving four cars that closed Route 140 for three hours yesterday morning, Maryland State Police said.
Police identified the drivers who died as Patricia Cohn, 30, of Westminster and Myron Kempler, 47, of Eldersburg.
Cohn was driving a 1991 Oldsmobile station wagon and Kempler was at the wheel of a 1990 Isuzu pickup truck when they collided less than a quarter-mile from the intersection of Route 140 and Old Westminster Pike.
Cohn was on her way to work at Elvira's Beauty Shop in Pikesville, driving east on Route 140, when Kempler's westbound vehicle crossed the center line, police said.
It was unknown why Kempler's pickup crossed the center line, but police said alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the crash.
"The cause of this collision is still under investigation," state police Cpl. Kevin Utz said in a statement.
The bodies were taken to the state medical examiner's office for autopsies.
Police said Cohn was wearing her seat belt, but Kempler was not.
The accident followed a near-crash moments earlier, when a Westminster woman driving a Geo Tracker swerved to avoid hitting Kempler's pickup as it crossed the center line, police said.
Her vehicle overturned and landed in a ditch. She was treated for minor injuries at Carroll County General Hospital and released, police said. The vehicle was "disabled," they said.
Moments after the fatal crash, a van driven by Timothy Richards of Westminster struck the vehicles driven by Kempler and Cohn as they were coming to a stop, police said.
Richards escaped unhurt.
Police said his vehicle was "functional."
Cohn was the mother of a 2-year-old daughter, Laurie, said Cohn's husband, Russell.
"She was a wonderful wife and a wonderful mother," he said.
Elvira Ferrara, owner of the beauty shop where Cohn worked, said she was "full of life, happy all the time. The customers are going to miss her."
Cohn, a Maryland native, graduated from Liberty High School in Carroll County.
Kempler's wife, Leslie, and her late husband had two sons, Daniel, 11, and Adam, 8.
He also had a daughter, Sarah, 16, from a previous marriage, a family member said.
Neighbors said Kempler owned a security-alarm business, United Security Alarm, and also worked in a family-owned pharmaceutical business.
He was described by neighbors as an outgoing, openhearted person who was generous and always willing to lend a hand.
"Myron always had a big hi and hello. He was always doing things for other people," said neighbor Ed Hagen on Monroe Avenue. "When I moved here, he was the first to have a big block party."
Hagen recalled one Saturday when Kempler spent all day helping him build a deck, and another occasion when Kempler gave a videocassette recorder as a gift to friends who had just broken theirs.
Another neighbor, Michael Behrle, said Kempler was "a good storyteller who put life's voyages into perspective."
Pub Date: 1/26/97