2 dead after police chase

Car carrying 3 teens crashes and burns on B-W Parkway

Driver fled from officer

Anne Arundel

March 08, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt and Jackie Powder | Laura Barnhardt and Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Two teen-agers died in a fiery car crash on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway early yesterday after being chased for five miles by U.S. Park Police, authorities said.

A 17-year-old passenger in the Dodge Neon survived the accident near Route 32, where the car sped out of control and hit a tree before igniting, police said.

The crash closed the northbound lanes of the parkway between Routes 198 and 32 for five hours.

The pursuit began about 3 a.m. near the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, police officials said.

A U.S. Park Police officer had pulled over the Dodge for a violation involving the vehicle's license plate. The car had a temporary tag, said Sgt. Scott Fear, a spokesman for the Park Police.

As the officer approached the stopped Dodge, Fear said, the driver sped off, continuing north on Route 295.

Two other Park Police patrol cars joined the chase, following the Dodge for about five miles, Fear said.

North of Route 198 near Maryland City, the Dodge ran off the right side of the highway, hit a tree and burst into flames, police said.

Anne Arundel County firefighters extinguished the fire, which had engulfed the car within 10 minutes, but were unable to rescue the teen-age boy and girl. Officials think the teen-agers were both 16 and from Washington. They died at the scene.

Park Police investigators did not release the names of the victims yesterday. Investigators were attempting to confirm their identities through dental records.

The 17-year-old survivor, who lives in Prince George's County, got out of the car on his own and ran up an embankment toward a wooded area near the highway, Fear said. An officer stopped him and took him into custody for questioning. The teen-ager was taken to Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham, where he was treated for minor injuries and released, Fear said.

No charges were filed against the teen-ager yesterday, police said.

Fear said Park Police investigators had not determined why the driver of the Dodge fled after being stopped by police but added that "there's a very good chance that the vehicle is stolen."

He said investigators have had difficulty recovering the vehicle's identification number because of fire damage.

Fear said expert in accident reconstruction are working to determine how fast the Dodge was traveling. He said Park Police policy allows officers to pursue vehicles for traffic violations on a limited-access highway such as the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

A Park Police officer who begins a pursuit in an urban area must know or have reason to think that the driver of the pursued vehicle has committed a felony, Fear said.

If a suspect is not wanted for a felony, he said, Park Police typically stop pursuit on the parkway and notify the appropriate law enforcement agency when the vehicle leaves federal park property.

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