Teen still in critical condition after accident

Elkridge crash prompts schools to address adolescent driving

October 05, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

A Howard High School senior remained in critical condition yesterday while another student was recovering at home after Saturday's two-car accident in Elkridge that killed their 17-year-old friend and a 3-year-old girl in the second vehicle.

Nicholas Paul Thayer, a Howard High junior, was killed when the car he was driving stuck another vehicle on Landing Road about 10:45 a.m. Saturday. One of Thayer's passengers, senior Matthew Merson, is at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. A second passenger, senior Stephen Peddicord, was released Sunday night from Shock Trauma after suffering a leg injury and a concussion, and is at his Elkridge home.

The crash was the second one in a week that killed a Howard County student. Robert Middaugh, a senior at Atholton High School, was killed Sept. 25 in Montgomery County, when the car he was driving slammed into a light pole off Route 198 in Burtonsville. Montgomery County police said the accident was alcohol-related.

The Howard County school system is looking at ways to address teenage drivers and safety on the roads on a countywide level, said Pamela Blackwell, coordinator of student services.

"We are concerned that it's our second student fatality," Blackwell said. "We need to take a look systemically at what we want to do."

Thayer, Merson and Peddicord were traveling to Howard High for the school's homecoming football game when the accident occurred, said Debbi Peddicord, Stephen's mother.

Thayer was driving north on Landing Road when he lost control of his 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix, slid sideways across the center line and struck Jose Velasco's 1991 Honda Accord, police said. Speed and a slick roadway contributed to the accident, police said.

Three-year-old Natalie Velasco, who was in the vehicle driven by Velasco, of Hunt Club Road, died an hour later at St. Agnes Healthcare, police said.

Natalie, who was a front-seat passenger in her father's Accord, was not secured in a child safety seat as required by Maryland law, said Sherry Llewellyn, a police spokeswoman. The child was being held only by the car's automatic shoulder belt, Llewellyn said.

Jose Velasco was released Sunday from Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Stephen Peddicord remembered Thayer as a caring and giving person, who loved to meet new people. The two had known each other through high school but became close during the past year, Debbi Peddicord said.

"He had a lot of friends," Stephen Peddicord said. "He was very friendly and outgoing."

Thayer was wearing a seat belt, but it was unclear whether Merson, Peddicord and Velasco were wearing safety belts, police said.

Funeral services for Thayer will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Meadowridge Memorial Park, 7250 Washington Blvd. in Elkridge.

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