Police charge truck driver

Trenching machine fell off trailer that swerved into traffic

2 women fatally injured


April 05, 2001|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

The driver of a truck whose trailer swung into oncoming traffic, sparking a crash that killed two Clarksville women, was charged yesterday with manslaughter.

Howard County police also accused Harold Dewayne Kitchens, 27, of Hot Springs, Ark., of failing to properly secure the load on a flatbed trailer - two large pieces of construction equipment, one of which came loose and toppled onto Clarksville Pike (Route 108) during rush hour Tuesday.

A Toyota Corolla driven by 67-year-old Sue Marie Miller crashed into a trenching machine that landed in the road, and a Dodge Grand Caravan driven by 49-year-old Jacqueline Cormier Jenkins slammed into the trailer, police said.

Miller and Jenkins were taken to area hospitals, where they later died, police said.

Jenkins' 13-year-old daughter was treated for minor injuries and released from Howard County General Hospital shortly after the crash, which was reported about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Two vehicles that managed to skirt the truck and trailer hit some debris in the road.

The occupants of those vehicles were not injured, police said.

Police account

According to charging documents, Kitchens was towing the trailer eastbound on Clarksville Pike, west of Manorstone Lane, when the trailer swung across the center line into the westbound lane.

One piece of equipment fell off the trailer and was struck by Miller's Toyota, while Jenkins' minivan hit the trailer.

Kitchens told police he was living in Maryland "while working," according to charging documents.

What work Kitchens was doing in the county was unclear yesterday.

An official with General Construction Services of Greenbrier, Ark., the owner of the truck, did not return calls for comment.

Kitchens was charged with two counts of negligent manslaughter by automobile - each of which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison - and six driving offenses ranging from speeding to failure to prevent the load from coming loose.

He was released after posting $75,000 bond.

Kitchens had been scheduled to appear in Howard County District Court yesterday on an unrelated weapons charge, but that case was postponed.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 3, Kitchens was walking along Ellicott Mills Drive when a county police officer stopped to question him.

He was charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon - a knife with a 5-inch blade.

`Gramma Sue'

As police continued to investigate the accident yesterday, the victims' families prepared to bury the two victims.

Miller, known as "Gramma Sue" to both children and adults, had been driving back to the Trotter Road home she shared with her daughter's family, returning from one of the twice-daily outings she usually took with the family dog, Murphy, said her son-in-law, Jeff Brenton.

After the crash, the family discovered that Murphy had sustained bruises in the crash and had been taken to an animal shelter.

They were able to pick up the dog yesterday, Brenton said.

Miller had moved in with the Brentons in 1999 after she retired from a Giant Food store in Bowie, where she worked at the salad bar, Brenton said.

She doted on her two grandsons and Murphy, he said, and was a familiar sight at the boys' ballgames - sitting in a double folding chair with Murphy.

"She was just the kindest, sweetest lady you ever met," he said.

Jenkins' family declined to comment yesterday.

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