Accident angers Pasadena neighborhood

Trooper reportedly lost control of car, damaged property

April 26, 2000|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County police are continuing an investigation of an incident in which an off-duty state trooper lost control of his Camaro in a Pasadena neighborhood, apparently plowing through two mailboxes and clipping the back of a parked van.

The crash occurred last week in the 400 block of Maryland Ave. -- one of two through streets in the Boulevard Park neighborhood and long the subject of complaints about speeding and drag racing.

Residents who sustained property damage expressed concern about the adequacy of the investigation and whether the driver of the Camaro -- who has not been charged with any traffic offense -- was given special treatment because he is a trooper.

But county Eastern District Capt. Timothy Bowman said, "This is actually under more scrutiny because a police officer was involved. We want to make sure that we do everything possible to ensure there is no favoritism."

Bowman said police are taking extra steps to review the type of injuries sustained by the trooper -- a 21-year-old Pasadena resident -- before deciding if charges should be filed. Police also need to reinterview a witness -- a friend of the trooper.

The initial accident report indicates that the trooper was southbound on Maryland Avenue about 2 a.m. April 17 when he swerved and skidded off the road.

The first mailbox hurtled through the front passenger window of a parked van, which also was hit in the rear as the car ran off the road. One of several skid marks was measured at almost 60 feet before the mark gave way to tire tracks at the edge of the grass.

The friend of the trooper was quoted on the police report as saying that he had been following the Camaro and that it had been going no faster than 50 mph. The speed limit is 25 mph.

The trooper, who was taken by ambulance to North Arundel Hospital and later released, told investigators that he couldn't remember the accident.

Officers said they do not believe alcohol was a factor because they found no evidence of it on the trooper's breath -- or that of the witness -- and no open container of alcohol, Bowman said.

"We've complained about speeders on this road for years," said resident Richard Hitchcock, who recently sold his home -- and found his for-sale sign and mailbox knocked down and recent landscaping plowed up after the crash. "We found it ironic that it was a police officer who was involved in an accident that caused such damage."

His next-door neighbor, whose Chevy van was hit, posted cardboard signs in the undamaged right rear window declaring "Who's Next? Our Children" and "GO 25mph SLOW!!"

The residents, observing what appeared to be two sets of skid marks, questioned whether the police had considered drag racing as a possible cause.

"Based on the history of that road, I can understand why the neighbors might think that," Bowman said, but noted that when a car goes into a sideways spin, two sets of tracks are usually left.

At the point of spin, four tracks are usually left because each tire makes a mark, Bowman said.

Asked why no ticket had been issued, Bowman said police often wait until an injured driver is released from the hospital before filing charges.

However, Bowman said if physical evidence or witness statements support charges in the accident, they will be filed.

Police said the investigation will be complete in a few days.

The trooper, a December graduate of the state police academy who is assigned to the Easton barracks, has a clean driving record, according to the Motor Vehicle Administration.

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