Trucker given traffic citations

Rig hit footbridge, leading to death, Beltway closure

September 03, 1999|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

The Canadian truck driver whose improperly loaded rig knocked a Beltway footbridge down onto three cars -- killing one person, badly injuring three others and blocking Baltimore's main commuter artery for 12 hours -- has been issued four citations that could result in $880 in fines.

Paul C. McIntosh, 23, of Brussels, Ontario, was given these citations: His truck was wider and higher than allowed, lacked mandatory shocks and lights, and damaged the highway. Three of the violations carry fines of $120 each, and the fourth a $520 fine.

McIntosh and his company could also be forced to pay the costs of clearing and repairing the Beltway and face civil litigation by those injured. No suits have been filed by survivors, but state highway officials hope to recover the cleanup costs that could total as much as $300,000 -- much more than the relatively small fines sought for the traffic violations.

"These are the charges recommended -- that's it," said Lt. Joe Barker of the Maryland State Police.

"I think it's entirely appropriate that he wasn't charged with anything else," said Andrew Jay Graham, a Baltimore attorney representing McIntosh. He said the truck driver has three options: He can pay the fine, go to trial or plead guilty with an explanation.

"I think it's common knowledge that in most cases, people usually just pay the fine," Graham said. "But I will discuss it with my client, and we will decide what to do."

The state police said McIntosh has 30 days to pay the fines or ask for a trial. Reached at his home yesterday, McIntosh declined to comment, referring all questions to Graham.

In mid-August, Baltimore County Deputy State's Attorney Howard Mercker announced that no criminal charges would be brought against McIntosh in the footbridge collapse June 8. Mercker said his office had found that McIntosh's driving was not negligent; no indication of erratic driving, drugs or alcohol or speeding was found. As a result, the state decided not to file criminal charges against McIntosh, Mercker said.

The State Highway Administration (SHA) said yesterday it will seek restitution from McIntosh and his employer, T.T.K. Transport Inc. of Ontario, probably through civil litigation.

"We're going to proceed, looking to recoup the costs of the incident," said SHA spokeswoman Suzanne Bond. The original estimate of the damages and cleanup costs was between $275,000 and $300,000 -- but she said that the final total is being calculated by her agency.

Brian Goodman, a Baltimore attorney representing T.T.K, declined to comment yesterday.

McIntosh's truck, carrying an excavator riding nearly three feet higher than allowed by law, smashed into a Beltway footbridge at 5 p.m. June 8, causing it to collapse onto three cars passing underneath. Witnesses said the backhoe on the truck hit the bridge, lifting it slightly and causing it to collapse. McIntosh continued past the footbridge, then stopped at another one a few yards away.

The collapse left chunks and boulders of concrete strewn across all four lanes of the inner loop of the Beltway near Arbutus, forcing the road's closure for 12 hours. State and private crews worked through the night, first tearing down the remains of the Maiden Choice footbridge and then cleaning the debris from the highway.

The collapse killed Robert Taylor of Baltimore and injured his passenger, as well as the drivers of two other cars.

Taylor's brother, Larry Taylor, who had expressed dismay that no criminal charges would be brought, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Taylor's passenger, Regina Brehon, did not return phone calls.

Elizabeth Freeman and Henri Patrice McQueen Williams, the other two drivers, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sun staff writer Dan Thanh Dang contributed to this article.

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