Injured teen-ager ready to go home Girl, 15, was struck by police vehicle in Towson alley

March 19, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Shanon Marie O'Brien, the 15-year-old Pasadena high school freshman who was struck by a police vehicle while drunk in a Towson alley this month, expects to return home today from a Baltimore County rehabilitation facility.

"I'm tired of being here," she said in a telephone interview from Kernan Hospital in Woodlawn, where she has been recovering from the March 2 accident that devastated her and her family.

She misses Chesapeake Senior High School, her friends and "being able to do things, anything -- going out, being able to ride around with my sister, just being able to walk," she said.

She said she is in a wheelchair with a broken pelvis and ankle, undergoing two sessions a day of physical therapy and one of occupational therapy.

"They both hurt really bad, my pelvic bone and my ankle, because it got crushed," said the teen-ager, who had not joined any high school activities but is interested in photography.

She will be tutored at home, unable to return to school for the rest of this year.

"I'm a wreck; I think my nerves are shot," said her mother, Marcell O'Brien, 39. "I hate to see her like this. I'd rather it be me. I know she's fixable, but I don't know what kind of impact it's going to have on her for the rest of her life."

Students at Chesapeake High have been troubled by the incident. "I know a few kids have gone to the counselor," said Principal Harry A. Calender. "It's just a tragic thing, that's all."

Shanon, a resident of the 1700 block of Bayside Beach Road in Pasadena, had been riding and drinking with acquaintances, some of whom she she knew only by their first names, about 3 a.m. March 2. Canine Officer Steven M. Anderson, a member of the Baltimore County force for 15 years, was responding to a call about a car alarm sounding in the 8700 block of Lackawanna Road.

"When he got to the intersection of Lackawanna Road and the alley behind Yakona Road in Towson, he noticed a male standing at the corner at the entrance to the alley, and that male took off running," said Sgt. Kevin Novak, a Baltimore County police spokesman.

Anderson, 41, started chasing him and saw what he thought was debris or a rolled-up rug in the alley. He drove toward it, thinking his sport-utility vehicle would straddle it, but he hit the teen-ager, Novak said.

"I know that he felt terrible that this occurred -- that's what his superiors told me," Novak said, adding that Anderson, who did not return phone calls, returned to patrol duty the next day.

Shanon spent two days at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center with head injuries, a broken pelvis, a crushed wrist, bruises and a crushed ankle, then was transferred to Kernan.

"It's very upsetting, emotion- al," said the teen-ager's mother. Shanon "was embarrassed because all of her friends found out from the news. She's in pain at all times, it seems."

Shanon has no memory of being struck, but she remembers riding around with her former Perry Hall boyfriend and a half-dozen of his male friends. She drank several beers and vodka. About midnight, she was sitting on the hood of a white Ford truck and her companions asked whether she was OK. She said she was.

But the alcohol soon took effect. "Because I don't normally drink, it hit me a lot harder," she said. "I didn't realize how I was drinking the vodka, and I guzzled it straight. My body's not used to it. I just had a couple beers, and it made me drunk, and I just kept doing it not realizing what I was doing."

Shanon O'Brien said she is not angry at the police officer. "I don't feel it was [his] fault; I feel that it was something that happened."

Pub Date: 3/19/97

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