Father and 3 young sons killed in crash

Man was Frederick's chief operating officer

March 24, 2002|By Kimberly A.C. Wilson | Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN STAFF

The city of Frederick's new chief operations officer was killed along with his three sons yesterday morning when a car rear-ended the family's sedan as they drove to get haircuts.

Killed were Rodney B. Pulliam, 38, and sons Matthew, 8, Jordan, 9, and Rodney Jr., 10, all of Frederick.

Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty, who appointed Pulliam to his new post, called the death of the family man and public servant "an unspeakable loss."

"Rodney was a prayerful and pleasant man," she said in a statement. "He made a difference everywhere he went."

Maryland State Police at the Frederick barracks are investigating the accident that occurred about 10:30 a.m. at Route 180 and Butterfly Lane just outside the city. Pulliam's 1994 Hyundai was stopped in traffic behind four other cars when it was rear-ended by a 1997 Oldsmobile, police said.

The crash set off a chain reaction among the other vehicles, sending the Hyundai into the back of a 1994 Ford Bronco and pinning it beneath the Oldsmobile.

Pulliam and his sons probably were killed instantly, said Cpl. Robert A. Moroney, a state police spokesman.

The Oldsmobile's driver, identified as Anthony Fitzgerald Grimes, 34, of the 100 block of Pennsylvania Ave. in Frederick suffered nonlife- threatening injuries in the crash. Grimes and seven other drivers and passengers were taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital.

The exact cause of the collision remained unclear yesterday, although a preliminary accident investigation suggests that Grimes may have suffered a seizure, Moroney said.

"It is very early in our investigation, but he was not in the process of stopping," Moroney said. "We believe he was suffering from a medical emergency."

No charges had been filed as of yesterday afternoon, the spokesman said.

Pulliam, a resident of the 500 block of Goldspire Circle, began serving as Frederick's newest city administrator March 12, filling an office that had been vacant for nine months.

His responsibilities included overseeing a variety of city departments, including parks and recreation, community development and social services, as well launching a search for a new police chief.

Before taking the job, Pulliam served two years as a legislative aide in the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, an Ohio Democrat. Last fall, he ran for a spot on Frederick's five-member Board of Aldermen and came in sixth.

Pulliam, a native of Petersburg, Va., who would have celebrated his 39th birthday next month, also served as assistant minister at First Missionary Baptist Church in Frederick.

Pulliam and his sons, pupils at Orchard Grove Elementary School, are survived by his wife and their mother, Tammie, an occupational therapist at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

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