Routine taxi ride turns chaotic, leaving 5 strewn on city sidewalk Driver says gas pedal was stuck

witness says cab was 'flying'

May 14, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The driver of a cab that careened down a city sidewalk yesterday told police that the gas pedal had stuck to the floor, sending his out-of-control sedan crashing into five teen-agers, three street signs, a building and a tree.

Eight people were treated at area hospitals, including five high school students and a passenger in the cab. Police said none of the injuries was life-threatening. One teen-ager suffered two broken legs, a broken collarbone and a broken finger.

Left on the sidewalk along Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore were splintered steps, toppled signs and scattered tree limbs -- reminders of a routine cab ride and a morning jaunt to school that turned into pandemonium.

A dozen paramedics and firefighters rushed to the injured in the 2600 block of Harford Road, between Gorsuch Avenue and Homestead Street. Angry witnesses shouted at the cabdriver, Larry Dean Hall, 43, as he sat in the front seat of a police cruiser.

"He ran over my little cousin," screamed Antione Ennis, 23, who ** said his 17-year-old cousin, Marco Ward, was headed to nearby Fairmount-Harford high school.

The cabdriver "was flying down the street," said Ennis, who witnessed the accident. "He was swerving from the left lane all the way over to the sidewalk."

Sgt. Mark Howe, a police spokesman, said that the car will be inspected for a faulty gas pedal. No charges have been filed, he said.

An 80-foot-long skid mark outlined the path of destruction -- from splintered wooden steps where three young men had been standing, through a 30-mph sign pole that was cut in half, and over a concrete block that secured a sign near where a young man and woman were struck.

The cab's front end was crushed, and both wheels were bent inward. The concrete block, with the metal sign still attached, was firmly wedged between the left front tire and the fender, having been dragged 50 feet.

The accident occurred shortly after 9 a.m. Police said cab 8137, a 1991 Ford Crown Victoria owned by Yellow Van Service, was going south on Harford Road when it suddenly veered to the right and hit the front of a small blue Buick at Gorsuch Avenue.

Hall told police that he was unable to control the cab as it careened off the Buick, ran over two street signs, crashed into the wooden stairs of a rowhouse and hit three teen-agers standing on the steps.

Police said the cab then glanced off a church wall, ran over another sign and hit two more teen-agers.

Ward, who suffered two broken legs, was the most seriously injured of the pedestrians, police said. He underwent surgery yesterday at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Also seriously injured was Dia Donaldson, 19, of the 2100 block of Homewood Ave., who also suffered two broken legs, a broken collarbone and a broken finger. She was being treated at Hopkins.

Less seriously injured, police said, were Travis Norris, 18, of the 1600 block of Shadyside Road, who has been released from Hopkins; Donte Brandon, 18, of the 4200 block of Stanwood Ave., who was admitted to Union Memorial Hospital with injuries to his knee, ankle, wrist and lower back; and Derek Sivells, 18, of the 600 block of Springfield Ave., who was treated at Union Memorial for undisclosed minor injuries.

The driver of the Buick was identified as Lucy May Smith, 63, of the 2000 block of Robb St. Her passenger was Pamela Jones, 19, of the same address. Both were treated at Union Memorial for minor injuries.

The passenger in Hall's cab was identified as Kimberly Kahn, 34, of the 9200 block of Throgmorton Road in Carney, Baltimore County. She was treated at Union Memorial for injuries to both knees and her right arm.

Hall was not injured. Motor Vehicle Administration records show that he has a clean driving record.

Caroletta Jones was taking her 2-year-old son, Brandon, for a walk when she heard a crash and saw the accident unfold in front of her.

"So he was jumping lanes?" asked Officer Joseph B. Johnson, of the traffic investigation unit.

"He was lane jumping," Jones answered. "He went from the left all the way to the right. He was going awfully fast."

In an interview, Jones said she ran to the victims, called 911 and then saw the cabdriver get out of the sedan.

"He told me he just lost control of the car," she said.

Out of control

1. A yellow taxicab, whose driver said the gas pedal stuck to the floor, is speeding south on Harford Road. The cab careens off a blue Buick and jumps the curb at Gorsuch Avenue.

2. The cab runs over two street signs and a tree before hitting wooden steps on which three high school students are standing. The cab then glances off the front of a church.

3. The cab runs over a temporary sign secured by a concrete block, then hits a young man and woman before going back onto the road. The cab, dragging the concrete block, comes to a halt on Harford Road at Homestead Street.

Pub Date: 5/14/98

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