3 teens injured in road accident

October 22, 2005|By ANNIE LINSKEY | ANNIE LINSKEY,SUN REPORTER

Two Anne Arundel County teenagers remained in critical condition yesterday -- and a third was in good condition -- after the Volkswagen Jetta they were passengers in slammed into a tree near Crownsville Thursday night.

Three of the four teenagers in the car are students at Old Mill High School in Millersville, and one, the driver, graduated from there last year. The two girls who were sitting in the car's back seat are sisters.

"We're just grieving and trying to understand," said Derek Thomas, father of the sisters. "They are extremely good children."

Catherine Thomas, 17, a senior, was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she was in critical condition and on a respirator yesterday, according to her father.

Catherine's 14-year-old sister Victoria, a ninth-grader, was flown to Johns Hopkins Children's Center, where she was in good condition last night, a hospital spokeswoman said. She "has multiple fractures to the skull and bone fragments in the brain," Derek Thomas said.

Robert Giuffrida, 16, a junior from Severn, was in the front passenger seat. He was flown to Shock Trauma, where he was in critical condition yesterday.

The driver of the car, David Bathras, 18, of Millersville, was driven by ambulance to Shock Trauma. He was released yesterday.

"We're all a tight-knit bunch out here," Thomas said.

The group of friends was watching the Maryland-Virginia Tech football game on television at the Thomas home in Crownsville when they decided to drive out and get a pizza from Pizza Hut, Thomas said.

Bathras drove north on Old Herald Harbor Road -- a long straight street -- when he went over a hill and lost control of his car about 8:50 p.m., police said. The car veered off the right side of the road, and then Bathras pulled the steering wheel hard, over-correcting to the left, causing the car to skid 200 feet down the road and slam into a tree, police said. The crash uprooted the tree, police said.

A third daughter was driving in a separate car behind the Jetta, Thomas said. She saw the accident and went to a nearby house to call for help.

Firetrucks from the Herald Harbor Station sped to the scene, and paramedics began extracting the three teenagers who were trapped in the car, said William L. Bethea, spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. Derek Thomas followed the firetrucks in his car.

The paramedics called for three helicopters to fly the victims to hospitals, Bethea said.

Bathras, the driver, did not need to be extracted from the car.

Old Mill High School was closed yesterday for a planned staff development day, but a spokesman for the school system said grief counselors would be on hand when the students return Monday.

"They are there to provide any support and talk to students who may have concerns," said Tony Ruffin, a school spokesman. "It is certainly a tragic occurrence. We hope the students will be able to return to school as quickly as possible."

All the teenagers were wearing seat belts and the airbags deployed, police said.

Police are investigating the accident, said Sgt. Shawn A. Urbas, a police spokesman.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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