Couple trade vows at Shock Trauma

4 in wedding party were hurt in Harford crash that killed 2

May 28, 2001|By Frank D. Roylance and Alec MacGillis | Frank D. Roylance and Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

Kellie A. Shaughnessy's wedding to Scott Fitzgerald of Havre de Grace certainly didn't go according to plan.

Instead of her gown, the bride wore slacks, a shirt and a blue sling on her broken right arm. Her bridesmaid and matron of honor were in wheelchairs.

Shaughnessy and three people in her wedding party were injured in a fatal crash Friday on Route 155 in Harford County. By last night, they had recovered sufficiently to hold the wedding ceremony -- a day late -- in the tiny chapel at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

About 25 of the 85 people originally invited to the wedding were able to squeeze into the chapel. And the 10-minute service was only a part of the ceremony the couple had been planning for a year. The dress code was casual.

But family and friends were grateful, because it was a celebration of love and life.

"We walk through a very, very horrible, a very sinful world," said the Rev. Jeff Shultz, of Middle River Baptist Church, who officiated. "But we are promised through whatever happens, that [God] is our constant companion."

The crash occurred Friday night when a 19-year-old Aberdeen man made a U-turn and struck a minivan, sending it into the opposite lane, where it struck a sport utility vehicle carrying the wedding party.

The impact killed both passengers in the minivan, Tracey L. Shepard, 33, of Port Deposit and Deborah E. Fitzpatrick, 33, of Havre de Grace. The 19-year-old, Eric E. Coan, was charged with two counts of negligent manslaughter in an automobile and two counts of negligent manslaughter while intoxicated.

The four members of the wedding party, who were returning to the groom's home after a rehearsal dinner, suffered serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.

The matron of honor, Tiffany D. Pride, 25, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., had a broken femur and was expected to remain at Shock Trauma for several more days, according to Shultz. Bridesmaid Erin Fitzgerald, 24, of Haddon Heights, N.J., suffered a broken ankle and was released before the wedding.

Groomsman Robert M. Wever, 24, also of Haddon Heights, and Shaughnessy, 25, of Palm Beach, Fla., were previously released.

With Shaughnessy scheduled for surgery this morning to have a steel rod inserted in her arm, the families decided to go ahead and hold the ceremony last night at the hospital.

"They're all lucky. We feel so blessed," said Rebecca Fitzgerald, the mother of the bridegroom and bridesmaid.

The accident will likely delay the September wedding of Wever and Erin Fitzgerald, since Fitzgerald won't be able to put any weight on her leg for at least three months, her mother said.

For now, Rebecca Fitzgerald said, her Harford County home has turned into a "hospital ward" where all four members of the party will be cared for after their hospital release.

"We came home from the hospital to a house full of food from friends," she said. "There's been such a wonderful outpouring of support."

The father of the bride, Bruce Shaughnessy, 54, of Brooksville, Fla., said he was at Scott Fitzgerald's house, a few blocks from the accident Friday night, when he heard a tremendous crash.

"I heard what turned out to be my daughter's screams," he said. He and Scott's father went to the scene and tried to calm the 19-year-old driver who was later charged in the accident and stop his bleeding.

Then he went to the other car, "and there's my daughter," he said.

"We're all numb," he said. "My mind just keeps wandering up and down, as to why. This should have been their day."

His daughter, fighting back tears, said memories of the crash, and the fact that two people died, will haunt their every anniversary.

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