Police seek man who fled accident

Pickup truck was stolen after driver had stopped to try to help I-95 victims

Howard County

May 09, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Maryland State Police continued searching yesterday for Gregory Augustus James Jr., a Baltimore man they believe fled the scene of a two-car accident Tuesday morning on Interstate 95 in Howard County using the Ford pickup truck of a driver who had stopped to help.

Police identified James, 32, by listening to messages on a cellular telephone found in the Isuzu Trooper involved in the accident, which sent two Silver Spring residents to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and slowed the morning commute.

James, who was driving with a suspended license, had borrowed the Isuzu from friends, said Sgt. Charles Moore. Police spent Tuesday trying to find the sport utility vehicle's owner to confirm that James had been driving it, Moore said yesterday.

"But we developed most of our information from the cell phone," he said. "Everything just blossomed from there."

Police believe James is in the Reisterstown Road area of Baltimore, Moore said. They issued a warrant for his arrest late Tuesday, charging him with more than a dozen counts, including motor vehicle theft.

Authorities consider James possibly armed and dangerous because he has an extensive criminal history, according to court records, including a conviction in a 1995 armed carjacking in Baltimore. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years, records show. James was released in March, said a spokeswoman at the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

State police said they are not sure why James left the accident scene. Witnesses reported seeing the SUV speeding and traveling erratically just before the 8:40 a.m. accident, and at least one witness told police the driver seemed to be nodding off at the wheel.

"That all makes me think there was something going on," Moore said.

The Isuzu smashed into a 1996 Oldsmobile, and both cars flipped over a guardrail, landing upside down, but the Isuzu driver managed to crawl out of the wreckage and steal a 1997 pickup truck while its driver was assisting people in the Oldsmobile, police said.

The truck is registered to G.L. Cornell Co. of Gaithersburg, a name painted on the truck in gold and black, police said.

Loreen Johnson, 61, driver of the Oldsmobile, and her son, Jerome Johnson, 26, were taken to Shock Trauma, police said.

Loreen Johnson had to be cut from the vehicle, police said. A hospital spokeswoman said she was treated and released Tuesday. Jerome Johnson, who police said was ejected from the vehicle, was in serious condition yesterday at Shock Trauma, the spokeswoman said.

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