Woman killed when speeding minivan hits her vehicle

Police say driver ran light while fleeing officer

Anne Arundel

February 10, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

A man who refused to pull over his minivan for a routine traffic stop late Sunday night in Glen Burnie sped through a red light and smashed into a sport utility vehicle, killing a 60-year- old woman and injuring her daughter, Anne Arundel County police said.

The incident began when a county police officer attempted to stop a 1989 Chevrolet Astro minivan about 10 p.m. on Crain Highway for a registration violation, police said. It ended moments later, when the minivan collided with a 2002 Ford Explorer that had just left the parking lot of a Rite Aid, according to authorities.

The Explorer's driver, Phyllis Gesualdi of the 8000 block of High Oak Road in Glen Burnie, was killed. Her daughter, Theresa Anne Schoolman, 35, of the 7800 block of Hidden Creek Way in Stoney Beach, was seriously injured.

Schoolman was in serious condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Relatives said her injuries include a ruptured pancreas.

The driver of the minivan, Anthony William Kozak, 24, of the 3000 block of N. Dale Lane in Bowie, was in serious condition yesterday at Shock Trauma, where he is under police watch, according to authorities.

Possible charges against the minivan driver are being reviewed by prosecutors, said Anne Arundel State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee.

Amber Schoolman, 16, said her grandmother had taken her mother, who had been complaining of stomach pains that day, to North Arundel Hospital and that the two had picked up a prescription moments before the accident.

Gesualdi "was a sweet, wonderful person," Amber Schoolman said. "My grandmother never went a mile over the speed limit."

County police said a preliminary investigation has revealed that the accident was caused by the minivan speeding and failing to stop at a red light. The posted speed limit there is 30 mph.

Acting Capt. James Teare Sr., commander of the Northern District, said that when an officer in a marked police car attempted to pull over a minivan driver for a registration violation, the driver sped away.

When Officer Todd Betz realized that the driver did not intend to stop, he flipped off his lights and siren but continued to follow the minivan at the posted speed limit, Teare said. Betz witnessed the collision at Crain Highway and Hospital Drive.

Police Department policy prohibits officers from pursuing a fleeing driver except in select cases where the public is in danger, according to Teare.

Teare said the department will review whether Betz followed department procedures.

Officers said that Kozak had an outstanding arrest warrant on a theft charge and was driving on a suspended Maryland license.

The minivan struck the driver's side of the Explorer, causing it to overturn onto the passenger's side, police said.

In addition to her daughter, Gesualdi is survived by her husband, Albert Gesualdi Sr.; two sons; and seven grandchildren.

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