Punch to aid turns fatal

Ocean City visitor asked friend to hit him to cure hiccups

Ex-Balto. Co. resident

In other case, man allegedly bit another for smiling at wreck

July 03, 2000|By Jamie Smith Hopkins and Richard Irwin | Jamie Smith Hopkins and Richard Irwin,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, Joshua Thomas Burchette, 23, complained of hiccups after he had had several beers and asked the friend to punch him.

Ocean City police said Burchette, who formerly lived in the 9700 block of 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 by the state medical examiner in Baltimore.

Police said Burchette and a friend had been drinking beers late Friday night and around midnight met friends outside a pizza shop on Caroline Street downtown. Burchette complained about hiccups and asked one of them 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, witnesses told police. But he punched the tall, slender Burchette, who moments later collapsed face down on the sidewalk.

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

Burchette's mother said her family has a history of heart problems and that at least three male members have died from heart attacks or heart-related illnesses.

Fisher said her son often complained of chest pains but had never been hospitalized or placed on medication.

"They [heart problems] are a family problem," Fisher said last night from her Middle River home.

She said the young man who struck her son is devastated.

"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, said yesterday she knew Burchette his entire life and described him as a person happy to help others.

He often mowed her lawn and assisted with household repairs, she said.

"Losing Joshua is like losing one of my own kids," she said.

Another strange 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, ripped his shirt and bit his cheek, witnesses said.

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, reckless driving and giving false information to police.

Sun staff writer Kurt Streeter contributed to this article.

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