Academy given class ring of 2000 graduate

April 26, 2001|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

The parents of former midshipman John R. Elliott, who died last year when his car was hit head on by a drunken driver in New Jersey, donated their son's class ring to the Naval Academy museum yesterday.

The ring, which Elliott was wearing at the time of the crash, will be displayed with others dating as far back as the late 1800s. The stone in Elliott's ring is cracked from the impact of the collision.

"The cracked stone represents the price he paid and our broken hearts," said Elliott's father, Bill Elliott.

The museum accepts the first ring donated from each class to become part of its permanent collection, said museum director J. Scott Harmon. Because most donations come only when someone has died, there aren't many rings from recent graduating classes.

Elliott, 22, died July 22, two months after graduation, as he drove from Annapolis to his home in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., for his mother's birthday. New Jersey State Police said driver Michael Pangle, 37, crossed the double yellow line and stuck Elliott's car, killing him and seriously injuring his long-time girlfriend, who was in the passenger's seat. Pangle, who also died at the crash scene near Camden, N.J., had been arrested for drunken driving several hours earlier.

Elliott's parents pressed for the passage of "John's Law," signed by acting New Jersey Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco this month, which allows officers to confiscate the vehicles of drunken drivers for as long as 12 hours. They have also raised more than $60,000 for the John R. Elliott Fund for Character Excellence at the academy, which will fund supplies and speakers for the school's character development program.

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