Prosecutors won't charge driver

January crash left two teenagers dead

June 03, 2006|By LAURA CADIZ | LAURA CADIZ,SUN REPORTER

The Howard County state's attorney will not file additional charges against the driver of a tractor-trailer involved in a fatal crash at Route 175 and Interstate 95 in Elkridge in January, where a traffic signal was not working.

The crash killed two teens and injured another and prompted a change in Howard County police policy on how to monitor and secure the site of nonworking traffic lights.

Gary L. Dicks, 24, of Stephen City, Va., received two traffic citations from state police. About a week ago, police accused him of negligent driving and failure to yield the right of way on a through highway, said Capt. N.W. Dofflemyer.

Dicks faces possible fines of $360, Dofflemyer said.

Howard County State's Attorney Timothy J. McCrone said Dicks' actions did not fit the criteria for the more serious charge of manslaughter by a vehicle.

"After closely reviewing all the facts and evidence and considering the time of day and the fact that the light was inoperable ... we decided that the gross negligence standard was not present," he said.

McCrone added: "These are some of the most difficult cases that we have to deal with, and they are some of the most heartbreaking. ... It was a terrible confluence of tragic circumstances, but the [truck driver's] behavior did not amount to a wanton and reckless disregard for human life."

The accident occurred the evening of Jan. 6 at the intersection off the southbound ramp off I-95 and Route 175 west.

According to state police, Dicks left I-95 and drove through the intersection where the traffic signal was out and struck the passenger side of a Volvo that was traveling west on Route 175.

Scott E. Caplan, 19, of Columbia and Theresa E. Howard, 18, of Eldersburg were in the Volvo and were killed. The Volvo's driver, Meghan E. St. Martin of Marriottsville, was injured.

After calls from people warning police that the traffic signal was not working, one officer went to the wrong site. Another left the intersection before a warning device was put in place; about a half-hour later, the accident occurred at 10:36 p.m., The Sun reported in February.

After the accident, Howard County police changed their policy and now require officers to remain at the scene of a malfunctioning traffic signal until it is repaired or until another type of warning device is placed at the site, The Sun reported in February.

Sherry Llewellyn, a Howard police spokeswoman, said the department has concluded an internal affairs investigation into whether any of the officers should be disciplined. However, she said the results cannot be released publicly because they involve a personnel matter.

laura.cadiz@baltsun.com

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