Crash claims child's family

Girl critically hurt

parents, siblings die in Del. vehicle pileup

`They're with their Lord'

February 19, 2002|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

Relatives gathered yesterday in a Delaware hospital at the bedside of 6-year-old Margaret Abbott, a critically injured Baltimore County girl who is the only member of her family to survive a car crash that killed her parents and her two brothers Sunday.

A woman trying to squeeze her car between two vehicles set off a chain reaction near Dover that flipped the Abbotts' minivan into the air, where it crossed the median and bounced off a car before landing in the road. Killed were Wayne Stuart Abbott, 49; his wife, Emily, 46; and their sons, 9-year-old Douglas and 5-year-old Brian.

"We're kind of in a daze right now," Wayne Abbott's brother Bruce Abbott said yesterday. Wayne Abbott was the fourth of seven siblings, five boys and two girls.

The Abbotts lived in Freeland, near the Pennsylvania line, where Emily Abbott home-schooled the children. They had been on the way to Philadelphia for a weekend trip, but, family members said, they decided instead to head to Fenwick Island, Del. When their van was struck, they were headed south on Delaware Route 1.

"They're with their Lord that they loved so much," said Bruce Schwarz, Emily Abbott's brother and a Baltimore County firefighter. "We take comfort in that."

Wayne Abbott, who had served two decades in the National Guard, worked for the city of Baltimore where he was a pollution control analyst, monitoring the health of the water in its reservoirs. The family was active at Valley Presbyterian Church on Joppa Road, where Wayne Abbott was an elder and often played his trumpet, and Emily Abbott, in her spare time, was the choral director, the same post held long ago by her mother.

"Emily just had a beautiful voice," recalled Cynthia Abbott Busch, one of Wayne Abbott's sisters and the wife of Del. Michael E. Busch of Annapolis. "She sings at everyone else's funeral."

Funeral arrangements were incomplete yesterday, though family members said service will likely be held at Valley Presbyterian.

"The church was very much part of their lives," Busch said.

Wayne and Emily Abbott had longstanding ties to Baltimore County. He graduated from Towson High School and put himself through University of Maryland, College Park; she graduated from Roland Park Country School and Towson University, relatives said.

They had been married for 10 years.

"They were a very close-knit family," said Melvin Lindsay, who lived next door to the Abbotts in Freeland. "Wayne and Emily were devoted to their children."

The Lindsays last saw the Abbotts on Saturday night when the Lindsays spent a few hours baby-sitting for the Abbott children.

Yesterday, the Abbotts' house, with its playground equipment and its basketball hoop, stood quiet except for the barking of the family dog, a black Labrador retriever named Sadie.

Douglas was a Cub Scout, and Brian, whom relatives described as fearless, loved to play soccer.

"They were all smart, sweet, wonderful kids," Busch said.

The crash took place about 4:10 p.m. Sunday as the Abbotts traveled south on Route 1 in the left lane. Wilmington resident Lawrence H. Graham, 63, was in the right lane but behind the van. A Ford Thunderbird driven by Tishara A. Duffy, 21, of Lincoln, Del., was behind the Abbotts, according to police, when she tried to get into the right lane, squeezing between the two vehicles.

The front of her car clipped the rear of the van, flipping it into the air as many as three times before it entered the northbound lanes and rolled on top of a Geo Prizm, police said.

Two other cars crashed as they attempted to avoid the collision. The only serious injuries were to the Abbott family.

No charges have been filed. It could take months before the accident reconstruction team makes a final report, said Delaware State Police Lt. Timothy E. Winstead.

Yesterday, family members rushed to be with the girl, who suffered head injuries and remains unconscious. Among those at her side: two of her uncles, her paternal grandmother and her maternal grandfather.

Margaret Abbott, the grandmother, has 19 grandchildren. There are so many children to be consoled, said Glenn Abbott, another of Wayne Abbott's brothers.

"She's in critical condition," he said. "You want to think the best ...

"She is a long way from being out of the woods."

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