Man killed in Beltway pileup

Three others injured in five-vehicle crash that closed outer loop in Arbutus

July 13, 2006|By NICK SHIELDS | NICK SHIELDS,SUN REPORTER

One person died and three others, including a state highway worker, were injured yesterday after a five-vehicle crash that forced the closure of the outer loop of the Beltway in Arbutus, authorities said.

An elderly man was killed after his Toyota Camry was caught up in the chain-reaction crash, which ended with a sport utility vehicle turned on its side and a tanker truck sitting atop a trailer towed by a State Highway Administration truck.

"I've never seen anything as gruesome as that," said Curt James, a 45-year-old employee of a lawn-treatment company who said he was working near the highway when he saw the crash. "The little Toyota, it was spinning in the highway."

The accident, near the Beltway's Wilkens Avenue exit, tied up traffic southwest of Baltimore as officials closed the highway for about five hours.

The driver of the Toyota, identified as John J. Salkauskas, 86, of the first block of Belle Grove Road, Baltimore, was taken to St. Agnes Hospital, where he died, police said.

The highway worker, identified as Andrea Carter, 28, of the 600 block of N. Augusta Road in Baltimore, was in serious condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. Gregory T. Scaglotti, 24, of the 200 block of Blakeney Road in Catonsville, was taken to Shock Trauma, and Wayne A. Watt Jr., 42, of the 2800 block of Carver Road in Baltimore, was taken to St. Agnes Hospital, both with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, police said.

Carter, described as a four-year employee of the State Highway Administration who works out of the agency's Owings Mills shop, was driving a dump truck, accompanied by a van with prison inmates on a roadside cleanup job, when she stopped the truck in the highway about 9:30 a.m. and reportedly got out to pick up tire tread from the highway, authorities said.

Police gave this account of the accident: A tanker truck carrying 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, driven by Robert W. Tolliver, 60, of Chesterfield, Va., struck the 1990 Toyota Camry driven by Salkauskas, which spun through the far left lane and onto the shoulder.

The tanker truck then hit a 2003 International box truck driven by Watt and collided with a Jeep Cherokee operated by Scaglotti. The Jeep hit a trailer being towed by the highway administration truck and overturned, and the tanker came to rest on top of the trailer.

Tolliver was not injured in the crash, authorities said.

Traffic was diverted onto Wilkens Avenue, officials said. The highway was reopened about 2:30 p.m.

State highway officials said the protocol to pick up debris on the roadway is determined on a "case-by-case" basis.

"We respond, literally, to thousands of calls for debris a year," said Chuck Gischlar, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration. "It's a judgment call based on the person out there performing the maintenance. They have to make a judgment call what's safest for them, what's safest for the motorist out there.

"In a perfect world, we can wait for state police or another SHA vehicle to come and provide backup, but sometimes the debris is so substantial you have to do what you can to get it out of the roadway," he added. "Debris is dangerous on the roadways. Then it becomes airborne, then it becomes a missile."

State police officials said no charges have been filed, and investigators will forward their findings to the Baltimore County state's attorney's office for review.

nicholas.shields@baltsun.com

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