Cars reportedly were racing before crash Police following leads in head-on collision that killed teacher

June 04, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Witnesses reported seeing three cars drag racing, traveling faster than 100 mph along Route 140, just before a fatal head-on collision Monday night in Finksburg, state police said.

Trooper Rob Lantz said yesterday that statements from most of the five witnesses indicated that three cars were involved and "appeared to be driving at speeds in excess of 100 mph" just before the 9: 30 p.m. crash.

The drivers of two of the racing cars did not stop after the collision. Lantz said investigators were following leads about them.

According to police, one of the cars sped out of control, crossed the grass median and smashed head-on into a car driven by Geraldine Lane "Geri" Wu, 42, of Westminster, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Wu was a teacher at Mount Airy Middle School and mother of three children, police said.

Min-li Wu, 14, was a passenger in her mother's 1997 Mitsubishi. She and the driver of a 1991 Nissan, which struck the Mitsubishi, were treated at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center and released Tuesday.

The driver of the Nissan was Mark E. Eppig, 22, of the first block of Chase St. in Westminster, police said.

Lantz said the Nissan is being held until the state police Automotive Safety Enhancement Division inspects it.

He said some witnesses reported seeing what appeared to be speed-enhancing modifications on the three cars that were racing.

The Nissan, which was towed to a Westminster garage and partially covered by a tarp in a fenced area, had sod hanging from under the rear. It appeared to have a large silver tailpipe.

Altering a car's exhaust system is one modification that is used to gain speed, Lantz said. The Nissan did have an altered exhaust system, he said.

Eppig declined to be interviewed by investigators.

'Terribly, terribly upset'

A woman answering the telephone at his home said yesterday, "We don't have a statement, except we're just terribly, terribly upset about this."

David P. Daggett, deputy state's attorney for Carroll County, said he expected to review police, witness and collision tTC reconstruction reports, which usually take about two weeks to complete.

Lantz, who has been a trooper for about one year, said he regularly patrols Route 140 in the Westminster area. He said drivers often exceed the posted limits of 45, 50 or 55 mph on the four-lane highway.

'First occurrence'

"This was the first occurrence [of drag racing] that I've known about," he said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered for Wu at 10 a.m. Saturday at Baker Memorial Chapel at Western Maryland College in Westminster. She was a graduate of the college.

She is survived by her husband, Laurence C. Wu, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at the college, and their children, Min-li, 14, Andrew, 13, and Paul, 10.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Pub Date: 6/04/98

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