Truck chase through tunnel ends in death

Driver hit five cars, was pepper-sprayed

July 05, 2000|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

A 35-year-old Pikesville man died Monday night after losing control of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 95 in Baltimore, hitting five cars and crashing through a Fort McHenry Tunnel toll gate before police caught up with him at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, according to a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Yakov Ostrovsky, of the 2900 block of Fallstaff Road, died of unknown causes after police sprayed him with pepper spray because he would not get out of his truck at the airport.

There was speculation last night that Ostrovsky might have suffered a heart attack. An autopsy performed yesterday was incomplete.

Investigators said Ostrovsky was driving southbound on I-95 Monday when he lost control near Eastern Avenue about 10:45 p.m., according to Kelly Melhem of the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Ostrovsky's tractor-trailer, filled with goods from H&S Bakeries bound for Giant Food stores, rear-ended four cars on I-95 near Eastern Avenue and one near the Fort McHenry toll plaza. It crashed through a closed toll lane and drove through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, Melhem said.

Ostrovsky's truck left the tunnel with Maryland Transportation Authority police in pursuit.

Never going faster than 70 mph, Melhem said, Ostrovsky left I-95 and began heading toward BWI on I-195, finally stopping at the upper level of the airport about 11 p.m. There, Melhem said, Ostrovsky did not get out of his truck when police ordered him to do so.

"They had to physically remove him," she said. "Pepper spray was used by an officer at that point."

When police arrested Ostrovsky, they realized he was having medical difficulties, she said He was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Ostrovsky was declared dead about 11:45 p.m. at Shock Trauma. Melhem said she did not know whether Ostrovsky died in police custody, in the ambulance or at the hospital.

The state medical examiner's office is awaiting results of toxicology tests. Three of the drivers Ostrovsky hit are from out-of-state, Melhem said. The other two are from Baltimore and Gaithersburg.

Joshua Vincent, 40, of Baltimore, said he had just merged onto I-95 in his Honda Accord when he saw the truck approaching in his rear-view mirror.

"It was clearly not going to brake," said Vincent, who said he accelerated to cushion the blow.

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