Halethorpe man charged in hit-and-run death of girl, 6

Witnesses, police chased suspect after city accident

March 24, 2003|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

A Halethorpe man was charged yesterday in the death of a 6-year-old girl who was struck by a pickup truck while crossing the street on her way home from the circus in downtown Baltimore on Saturday evening.

Witnesses were so enraged that they attempted to stop the truck at the scene, police said, only to have the man speed off on Lombard Street. One eventually caught the driver, punched through the window and was dragged for a short time down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Guillermo Diaz Lopez, 23, of the 400 block of Bigley Ave. was charged yesterday with manslaughter, attempted murder, assault and driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to documents filed in Baltimore District Court, a man was driving west on Lombard Street just after 10 p.m. when his truck struck Annie Compston, 6, of Jarrettsville, who was crossing the street south of First Mariner Arena with her parents and three sisters.

The force of the collision pinned the girl to the back of a car that was stopped just west of the intersection. The driver then backed up his pickup truck and fled the scene, according to charging documents.

The girl was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital and died yesterday in surgery.

"She was 6 years old, and it's just torn my family to pieces. It's just a horrible nightmare," said Annie's uncle, Tim McGann of Ann Arbor, Mich., who spoke on behalf of her parents, Thomas and Megan Compston.

Ryan C. Jones, 27, of Baltimore was walking out of the circus with his mother, girlfriend and daughter when he heard the crash.

"I looked up and seen the worst thing I ever seen in my life," Jones said.

He jumped in front of the truck and yelled for the driver to stop, and some other men tried to jump in the back of the truck, but the truck continued down Lombard Street.

Jones fell off the truck and started running up the street after it when another man, whom police identified as David Terrence, pulled up in a car. Jones got in, and the two gave chase, Jones said.

A police helicopter began to follow the pickup truck and officers saw the two men catch up to the truck at Lombard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The truck was stopped at a red light, and Jones jumped out of the car and tried again to apprehend the driver.

But Jones got caught in the door of the truck and was dragged alongside as it turned south onto Martin Luther King Boulevard. Jones struck the driver in an effort to get him to stop the truck; he eventually freed himself and fell to the street, according to the charging documents. Jones said he suffered bruises and cuts, but was not seriously hurt.

The helicopter continued in pursuit and directed police on the ground. Jones and Terrence continued in pursuit as the truck went onto Interstate 395 and Interstate 95 south.

City police Detective Michael Corcoran, who was on patrol, took up chase as the truck headed south on Caton Avenue, forcing it to stop. After a brief struggle, Corcoran took the driver into custody, according to the charging documents.

Jones and Terrence, who were on the scene, identified the driver and the truck. Corcoran said Lopez later registered a blood alcohol level of 0.07 percent in a breath test, just below the legal limit. Lopez did not have a driver's license, and the license plates on the truck were suspended, police said.

Jones said Annie looked a lot like his daughter, and when he saw her, he couldn't help but try to stop the man who hit her.

"Dude, it was the worst thing," he said. "I never seen a look like that on a man's face when her father picked her up. Man, I'm having trouble sleeping. ... It was the worst possible thing to see."

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