Neglect ruled out in crash

Prosecutors drop idea of criminal charges in bridge accident

Victim's brother `appalled'

Trucker, employer may face civil actions and traffic charges

August 14, 1999|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

A Canadian truck driver whose improperly loaded rig knocked down a Beltway footbridge will not face criminal charges, prosecutors said yesterday -- angering the family of the man killed in the collapse.

"I'm really appalled. Somebody's got to pay," said Larry Taylor, whose brother, Robert Norman Taylor, died when concrete chunks of the Maiden Choice footbridge smashed onto his car during rush hour June 8.

"I thought they were going to go ahead and pursue it."

But Paul McIntosh, the Canadian truck driver at the center of the spectacular accident, said yesterday from his Ontario home that he was "just quite happy" about the prosecutor's decision.

Baltimore County Deputy State's Attorney Howard B. Merker said McIntosh "committed no offense in driving the vehicle" even though the excavator loaded onto his tractor-trailer was more than two feet above the maximum allowed height.

"He was within the speed limit. He was in a single lane, he was not erratically driving. There was no alcohol and no drugs. We can't find any negligent act in the manner in which he drove the truck," said Merker.

Yesterday's announcement ended one portion of the investigation.

However, civil actions remain a possibility -- including traffic charges against the truck driver and lawsuits against the trucking company to recover the cost of cleaning up the accident, state officials said.

State police would not comment on what traffic charges might be brought against the truck driver and his employer, but emphasized yesterday that such charges were being considered.

"We will continue to pursue appropriate motor-vehicle charges in consultation with the state's attorney's office," said Maj. Greg Shipley, spokesman for the Maryland State Police.

He said investigators would begin immediately on developing a list of possible traffic charges.

The Maryland State Highway Administration said it still plans to seek restitution from McIntosh's employer, T. T. K. Transport Inc. of Ontario, Canada.

The cost of cleaning up the debris from the footbridge collapse is estimated at $275,000 to $300,000, a spokesman said yesterday.

"He was at fault -- there's no doubt about that," said David Buck, a highway administration spokesman. "When we get all the bills in, we would go after the company.

"It's more of a civil litigation thing -- we would have to go directly to the company. We will work with the state's attorney."

Yesterday, the company's Baltimore lawyer, Brian Goodman, declined to comment on the state's attorney's announcement, and calls to the trucking company went unanswered.

Buck said highway officials anticipated that some traffic charges would be filed against McIntosh.

Three people -- Regina Lee Brehon, Henri Patrice McQueen Williams and Elizabeth Freeman -- were seriously injured in the accident.

None of the families touched by the collapse had filed suit as of yesterday.

Taylor, whose brother was killed, said the family continues to grapple with grief in the wake of his 54-year-old brother's death.

"Rough -- it's really rough," he said.

He said his brother's longtime girlfriend, Brehon, is undergoing physical therapy for injuries she sustained in the accident. "She's making out pretty well," he said.

Brehon, 51, is still on medical leave from her job in network services at Bell Atlantic, said Crystal Everette, a family friend. Attempts to reach Brehon were unsuccessful yesterday.

McIntosh, who was hauling the excavator from Locust Point to Canada, was not injured in the accident.

His mother, Marie McIntosh, said that since the accident her son's truck-driving career at T. T. K. Transport has been "on hold" pending a decision on whether charges would be brought.

She said he has been cutting and baling hay for a farmer.

She said she hopes he will soon return to his truck-driving job.

"It's been very traumatic for him too, and I hope he can see his way to go back to work," she said.

Sun staff writers Jay Apperson, Dan Thanh Dang and Dail Willis, and staff researcher Jean Packard contributed to this report.

Pub Date: 8/14/99

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