Multiple accidents close Interstates 95 and 895 Reisterstown man killed

2 federal agents hurt

March 04, 1998|By Peter Hermann and Del Quentin Wilber | Peter Hermann and Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Dail Willis contributed to this article.

A tractor-trailer owned by a United States' spy agency jackknifed on Interstate 95 yesterday morning, shutting down the highway for a second time within four hours and causing rush-hour havoc for commuters.

Three accidents on a four-mile stretch of the highway between Elkridge and Baltimore killed a Reisterstown man and injured several others yesterday morning.

Snow, rain and aggressive driving were blamed for the crashes.

Police said a passenger car cut off a truck owned by the CIA about 9 a.m., and an unrelated crash that occurred almost simultaneously near the jackknifed truck injured two U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

Additional accidents were reported on Interstate 83 from the Pennsylvania line into Baltimore, on the Beltway and on Interstate 895 near East Lombard Street. The I-895 accident caused a fire that briefly closed the highway because of thick smoke. One person involved in that incident was in serious condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, police said.

"We've had a mess of [accidents] all day," said Maryland State Police Tfc. Frank Mills of the Golden Ring barracks.

The first major crash of the day occurred about 5: 30 a.m. in the northbound lanes of I-95 in Elkridge and claimed the life of truck driver Yankel Goldburt, 61, of Reisterstown, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said a Murry's Steaks tractor-trailer slammed into the back of Goldburt's broken-down produce truck near Route 100, scattering lettuce, tomatoes and carrots across the highway.

The tractor-trailer, driven by Harvey Gaskins, 51, of Upper Marlboro, jackknifed across all four lanes. Police said Gaskins was treated for minor injuries at St. Agnes Hospital. He was charged with failure to control speed to avoid a collision.

The accident closed the highway for two hours and police diverted rush-hour traffic onto Route 100 and U.S. 1. "It's amazing more people weren't hurt," said Trooper Roy Younger.

Shortly after 9 a.m., traffic on northbound I-95 was again forced to a halt when two accidents closed the highway and a ramp to Interstate 395 into downtown Baltimore.

Elana Mezile, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, said the first of the 9 a.m. accidents involved a tractor-trailer owned by the CIA that jackknifed when it was cut off by a white car, which sped away from the crash.

Moments later, Mezile said, the driver of a Dodge car -- a federal DEA agent -- was driving north and cut off a 1991 Toyota MR-2 while trying to exit onto I-395. She said the Dodge hit the Toyota's left front bumper, spun around and hit a 1996 Chevrolet pickup truck in the driver's-side door.

Mezile said the driver and passenger in the Dodge were taken by ambulance to Shock Trauma. She declined to release the names of the CIA truck driver and the DEA agents.

A DEA spokesman said the two agents were treated at Shock Trauma for nonlife-threatening injuries. Police would not release their names because they work undercover. The DEA said they had been en route to drug raids in Annapolis.

Police said the driver of the CIA truck was not injured. Mark Mansfield, a CIA spokesman, said the nondescript truck with U.S. government license plates was empty.

"The accident occurred during the normal course of business," Mansfield said, declining to elaborate. He said the agency uses the trucks "for transport purposes. Anything other then that, I'm not going to be able to tell you."

The spokesman played down the intrigue of a CIA truck involved in a crash, and the coincidence of two undercover DEA agents so close behind. "It's just as if an empty Giant truck had an accident," he said.

Police reopened I-95 about 12: 30 p.m.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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