8 hurt in series of accidents at Queen Anne's-Talbot border Dense fog is blamed for crashes on U.S. 50

June 26, 1998|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

WYE MILLS -- Dense fog, which cut visibility to 10 to 20 feet early yesterday, caused a half- dozen accidents involving 18 vehicles along a stretch of U.S. 50 near the Queen Anne's-Talbot county line.

Eight people were hospitalized, including 9-year-old Daniel Bortner Jr., of Thomasville, Pa., who was in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital late yesterday.

Police said the boy was in the back seat of a station wagon that was struck from the rear by a tractor-trailer as traffic slowed to avoid several minor accidents at U.S. 50 and Route 404. Daniel Bortner Sr., who was driving the car, and his daughter, Lynn, 6, also were hurt. Both were in stable condition yesterday at Memorial Hospital at Easton.

The driver of the truck, Jason Joseph Perkins, of Bloomfield, Pa., was not injured. Police said charges are pending.

"The fog was very dense. Visibility was very poor," said Lt. Carl Lee, a spokesman at the state police barracks in Easton. He said the first troopers arrived about 6: 30 a.m.

"This wasn't the kind of chain reaction where all the vehicles slam into each other. These were six separate accidents, all but one of them in the westbound lanes of Route 50."

L U.S. 50 was closed in both directions for more than an hour.

Last fall, dense fog was blamed for an accident in Easton in which a school bus driver was killed and 30 students were injured. That crash occurred when a tractor-trailer driver failed to see a red light and plowed into the bus at an intersection.

Yesterday, the thick fog appeared to cover an area between Skipton Creek and Route 213 near Chesapeake College, Lee said.

Mark Rusnak, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said thunderstorms in the area early this week left residual moisture in the air and as temperatures fell, fog formed.

"It looks as if visibility was under half a mile from 2: 30 until about 8 a.m.," Rusnak said. "We're going to have haze and humidity through the weekend, but fog shouldn't be a problem."

Russell Thompson, who works at the 84 Lumber yard on Route 404 north of U.S. 50, said he saw several cars run the red light at the busy intersection as he waited to turn north on Route 404.

"I must have gotten there about five minutes after the first accident," Thompson said. "The fog was just so bad, people were flying right through the light. They couldn't even see the light."

Bob Neimeyer, manager of Gomoljak Block business on the eastbound side of U.S. 50 between Routes 213 and 404, said he had to take back roads to work, arriving 20 minutes late as traffic backed up from Chesapeake College to Easton. "First time I've been late in four years," he said.

Among the injured yesterday was Shannon Crook, 19, of Centreville, who was in stable condition at Anne Arundel Medical Center late yesterday. Four others who were injured were treated at Memorial Hospital at Easton and released, police said.

Pub Date: 6/26/98

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