Punch to aid turns fatal

Ocean City visitor asked friend to hit him to cure hiccups

July 03, 2000|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

A former Baltimore County man visiting Ocean City for the Fourth of July holiday died Saturday after a friend punched him in the chest to relieve his hiccups.

The victim's mother, Jeri Ann Fisher, said her son asked the friend to punch him.

Her son, Joshua Thomas Burchette, 23, reportedly complained of hiccups after he had drunk several beers.

Ocean City Police said Burchette, who lived on Bird River Road in Middle River before moving to Virginia with his girlfriend, was pronounced dead at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin. Police said an autopsy was to be performed today by the state medical examiner in Baltimore.

Police said Burchette and a friend had been drinking beers late Friday night when they stopped at a Caroline Street pizza shop around midnight and began talking to friends. Sometime after midnight, he paused with friends outside the pizza parlor and asked one to hit him in the chest, police said.

The man -- whom police would not identify pending their investigation and who they said was a longtime friend of Burchette's -- wasn't eager to do so, police said witnesses told them. But he punched the tall, slender Burchette, who moments later collapsed face-first on the sidewalk.

Friends carried him to his nearby apartment and called paramedics. He was brought to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"We have very few fatal incidents here," Ocean City Police spokesman Jay Hancock said. "I don't remember a situation like this at all. ... And that's [in] 30-some years here in the summer."

Brenda Krause, 56, who lives next door to Burchette's mother in Middle River, said he visited his mother nearly every weekend after moving to Virginia and was planning to buy the Middle River house where he was raised, Krause said.

Another unusual incident occurred Saturday morning at Maryland's beach resort town: A man who was at the scene of a vehicle accident was charged with biting someone who he felt had smiled inappropriately at the crash scene.

Police said Marcos Ismael Escobar, 28, of Mardela Springs in Wicomico County ran his Ford Explorer off the east side of Philadelphia Avenue at about 2:15 a.m. Saturday, knocking down two parking signs and slamming into a utility pole at North First Street.

A passenger, German A. Chacon, 27, of Gaithersburg, was brought to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury with back and leg injuries, police said.

As officers investigated the collision, an onlooker apparently took offense at a restaurant employee who he believed had smiled as he walked past the scene, police said.

Anthony C. Kamenski, 23, argued with the employee, ripped his shirt and bit his cheek, witnesses said. The victim, a 23-year-old Cumberland man, whose name police did not release, was treated by paramedics.

Kamenski, of Washington, Pa., was charged with assault and malicious destruction. Escobar, the driver, was charged with driving while intoxicated, causing a life-threatening injury while intoxicated, driving on a suspended license and reckless driving.

Sun staff writer Kurt Streeter contributed to this article.

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