Promising future is cut short in crash

17-year-old killed in accident planned to attend UMBC

May 09, 2000|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Timothy Brierley was paving his way toward a bright future in computer programming.

He spent countless hours on the computer, was taking college-level courses, worked with one of the area's top software companies, earned a perfect score on the math portion of the SAT, and was scheduled to start as a freshman this fall at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, although he was a junior at Centennial High School.

His potential, family members and educators say, was immeasurable.

But Brierley, 17, was killed Sunday when he apparently lost control of the car he was driving on Meadowbrook Lane in Columbia.

Yesterday, his teachers and family members mourned the bright, funny, outdoor-loving teen-ager -- and the potential that will remain unrealized.

"He was one of the top programmers I've taught in 16 years," said Centennial High computer teacher Warren Michael, who taught Brierley in many of his advanced computer classes. "He wrote some of the most sophisticated codes I've seen. He would've been one of those guys we read about."

Brierley, of Clubhouse Court in Ellicott City, was accepted to UMBC on a full four-year scholarship called a President's Fellow Award. He had planned to attend UMBC full time next year and continue to take classes at Centennial so he could participate on the county math team and in high school computer competitions and graduate with his friends next May.

Tom Taylor, assistant provost for enrollment at UMBC, said it is unusual for juniors to be accepted on full academic scholarship. Brierley was one of a handful, he said.

"He was just a very bright, impressive young man," Taylor said. "We were obviously very saddened by the news."

The teen-ager won awards and contests in math and computers. He was fluent in at least four computer languages, Michael said, and often caught some of Michael's mistakes.

Brierley's older sister, Pam Brierley, said her brother loved computers so much he didn't use the telephone to talk to his friends anymore -- he instant-messaged them instead.

"He'd turn his computer on when he got up in the morning, and he'd just leave it on all day," she said.

Although Brierley was taking college-level computer courses and was creating a computer game he hoped to publish, the tall, red-haired teen-ager was more than just a typical "computer nerd," his family said.

Brierley had lots of friends and was always helping others, his father, Neil, said yesterday.

"People would come over to get tutored before tests," he said. "He'd help anybody."

Brierley also was a comedian with a dry sense of humor, and he loved the outdoors.

"He was going to be a camp counselor at Camp Echo Hill [in Worton] this summer," said his mother, Lisa. "It was an honor to be chosen for that."

Brierley also enjoyed in-line skating, sailing, crabbing and golf.

"He even played golf with me," said his grandmother, Dottie Frosell. "If you can play golf with your grandmother, you're a pretty good kid."

Brierley had attended the Centennial High prom Saturday night with his girlfriend, his parents said. His mother remembers that he looked "gorgeous" in his black tuxedo. On Sunday afternoon, he had lunch with his family and told them about the prom.

"He got his date an orchid, and it was the talk of the prom, he told us," Neil Brierley said.

After lunch, Timothy Brierley said he was going upstairs to do homework and then went out about 2 p.m. to pick up friends.

Police are investigating what happened next. According to a police report, Brierley was driving his father's 1995 Corvette north on Meadowbrook Lane when he apparently lost control of the car in a curve. The Corvette, the report stated, climbed a grass embankment and flipped onto its roof.

Passenger Susan Ricketts, 17, a senior at Wilde Lake High School, was treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center and released.

Centennial Principal Lynda Mitic remembered seeing Brierley at the prom.

"He was all smiles and having a wonderful time," she said. "That's a good memory to have."

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church, 6410 Amherst Ave., Columbia. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Echo Hill Campership Fund, P.O. Box 5923, Bethesda 20824, to help send underprivileged children to the camp.

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