5 West Baltimore Middle pupils are hurt by hit-and-run driver

Tip leads police to car they believe was used

October 23, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A hit-and-run driver plowed through a group of pupils leaving West Baltimore Middle School yesterday afternoon, seriously injuring one seventh-grader and sending four others to city hospitals, police and school officials said.

Police found last night what may have been the car, parked in the 200 block of Athol Gate Road less than a mile from where the children were struck. The dark four-door 1992 Nissan Sentra had front-end damage consistent with striking a pedestrian, said Officer Troy Harris, a police spokesman.

Harris said a tip from a person who saw a television account of the incident led police to the car, which was towed to police headquarters for examination by crime lab technicians. But no arrest had been made, and it was not known last night if the car had been a stolen vehicle.

The children -- described as 12- and 13-year-old seventh-grade honor students by the school's principal -- were hit about 4 p.m. outside a complex housing West Baltimore Middle and North Bend Elementary schools.

The seriously injured girl was rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she was being treated last night for head injuries, police said.

The four other pupils' conditions could not be determined last night, but police said they did not appear to have life-threatening injuries. Two were taken to St. Agnes HealthCare, and the others to University of Maryland Medical Center. Four of the injured are girls, police said.

The driver of the car turned onto Hillwell Road from North Bend Road just before the accident occurred, according to police. Several hundred feet down Hillwell, the car slammed into the children and the driver sped off, police said.

"The driver plowed right through them," Harris said. "The driver didn't slow down."

Principals of both schools complained of cars speeding in the area, endangering children and residents.

"Drivers have no respect for pedestrians" in the area, said Everett X. Garnett, principal of West Baltimore Middle, which enrolls about 1,200 children.

Garnett said no crossing guard works at North Bend and Hillwell when the middle school pupils are released from classes.

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