The driver of a pickup truck who caused a fatal accident last November when he drove the wrong way on Interstate 83 was sentenced in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday to 90 days of home detention, a decision that infuriated the victim's family.
"He's walking away with nothing," said Charlene Bell, 34, of New Freedom, Pa., whose husband, Richard J. Bell Jr., 31, was killed in the Nov. 21 crash. "It's like he's getting off free."
Calvin Eng, 47, of Fort Worth, Texas, was charged with auto manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident after he struck Bell's minivan about 4 a.m. in heavy fog while driving south in the northbound lanes of I-83 near the Belfast Road exit outside Sparks.
Assistant State's Attorney Tom Kane said he dropped the auto manslaughter charge because of insufficient evidence to prove the gross negligence necessary for a conviction.
"Unfortunately, all we had factually was a head-on collision on I-83 in what everybody agrees were bad conditions for driving," Kane said.
Judge Thomas J. Bollinger Sr. sentenced Eng to five years and suspended all but 90 days after Eng pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. Bollinger also recommended that Eng serve the sentence under home detention.
A pre-sentence report signed by two state probation agents recommended no jail time, noting that Eng had tried to help the victims after the crash.
Bell, mother of three, said memories of the wreck haunt her. "If it's raining or foggy out, I don't even want to leave the house," she said.