2 Charter Car Companies Being Reviewed After Fatal Crashes

Firms Had Few Problems In The Past, Regulators Say

April 29, 1997|By Michael James and Edward Lee | Michael James and Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

State regulators say two charter car companies involved in fatal accidents over the weekend have not had any significant past problems, although the regulators are reviewing accident reports to determine whether action may be taken on the companies' licenses.

Both companies -- Sedan Service Inc. and Towson Transportation Inc. -- operate fleets of "cars-for-hire" that are licensed to pick up riders for a prearranged fee. The service differs from taxicabs in that charter companies are not allowed to make street pickups.

A sedan driver for Towson Transportation Inc. slammed into the rear of a truck stopped for a red light at Perring Parkway and Echodale Avenue on Friday, killing a sedan passenger, 42-year-old Diane Andrea Moore Jones.

And early Sunday, a Sedan Service Inc. station wagon was broadsided when it was making a left turn onto Hillen Road from Perring Parkway. Police said the other car was traveling 100 mph when it struck the Sedan Service vehicle. Two passengers in the station wagon, Nathan Bland, 30, and Theresa Ramsey, 33, were ejected and killed.

An official affiliated with both companies said the accidents involved drivers who were going to pick up friends or relatives and were not on duty.

The charter car industry is regulated by the state Public Service Commission, which oversees more than 900 charter companies that have an estimated 4,000 cars-for-hire on Maryland roads, said Richard Page, the PSC's director of transportation.

Page said he could not recall any serious licensing problems with Sedan Service Inc., operated by Ahmad Ali Asgari, or Towson Transportation Inc., operated by Massoud Farhang.

Sedan Service, Towson Transportation and more than eight other charter car companies share the same corporate address, according to state records.

Each of the vehicles operated under a commission permit, or "operating authority," and must be inspected twice a year and meet an insurance requirement, Page said.

Charter company owners have not been required to provide information on their drivers to the commission. However, a law that takes effect Oct. 1 will require them to provide information on each driver, Page said.

The Towson Transportation driver in Friday's fatal accident, James Earl Goodman, had been cited twice in the past three years for seat belt violations and was convicted of drug possession in January 1995, court records show.

Farhang, listed in business records as the agent for Towson Transportation, said the company has strict rules prohibiting drug use. "As far as I know, these people are randomly drug-tested," he said. "If they are found to be involved with drugs, they are kicked out right away.

"I was very uncomfortable that people have been killed. But I believe that these are accidents, and I cannot control accidents."

Pub Date: 4/29/97

Sun staff writer Jill Hudson contributed to this article.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.