Arundel police identify victims of fatal crash

Collision killed man, 86, and longtime caregiver

December 31, 2003|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County police identified yesterday the victims of a head-on collision in Lothian as an 86-year-old man and his longtime caregiver.

George Stephen Shea of the 5600 block of Brooks Woods Road in Lothian and Patricia Rebecca Smith, 53, were pronounced dead Monday evening at the scene of the crash, less than two miles from Shea's residence.

Martin C. Dennis, Shea's lawyer, said the retired Army officer liked Smith to take him on a daily drive in his Lincoln Town Car through South County neighborhoods.

Dennis surmised the two had been looking at Christmas lights when the accident occurred shortly after 5:30 p.m. Monday.

"It's a horrible tragedy," said the Dunkirk lawyer.

Police reports indicate that the driver of a Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicle steered into oncoming traffic on Route 258, a two-lane road, for an unknown reason.

It appears that Smith tried to avoid a collision by steering sharply to the right, police said, but the Toyota smashed into the Lincoln even as it swerved onto the westbound shoulder.

The driver of the SUV, Claudia Catherine Thompson, 63, of the 700 block of Whittington Drive in Deale, sustained nonlife-threatening injuries, and police were trying to determine yesterday why her vehicle crossed the center line.

Thompson was flown to Prince George's Hospital Center, where a nurse said she was "stable" last night.

Police said alcohol was not a factor.

One of Thompson's daughters, Sherri Dickerson of Atlanta, said her mother never had a traffic ticket, as far as she knew. She declined to comment further. No other family members could be reached.

Neither driver had outstanding traffic violations, according to court records.

When reached by telephone, Smith's husband, Carroll Smith, declined to comment but said he planned to retain a personal-injury lawyer.

Dennis said Patricia Smith began working for Shea's terminally ill wife, Eula Mae, about eight years ago. It was a private arrangement, Dennis said, and Smith did not take other work.

Eula Mae Shea died Dec. 6, 2001, at age 78. Throughout her lengthy illness, George Shea would lie in a hospital bed next to his wife in the upstairs of the home, Dennis said.

After Eula Mae Shea died, Smith stayed at the Brooks Woods home to care for the increasingly ill George Shea, Dennis said.

"She was very loyal to him," Dennis said of Smith. "And she did an extremely good job caring for both of them."

Although Shea had been using a wheelchair for about three years, Dennis said, his mind remained "sharp as a tack."

Smith is survived by two daughters, Dennis said. Shea leaves behind two daughters and a son who lives in Chesapeake Beach, the lawyer said.

Funeral arrangements for Smith and Shea were incomplete yesterday.

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