Dozens evacuated after SUV cuts gas line in Essex crash

October 23, 2006|By Richard Irwin

An Essex carpenter has been arrested and charged with multiple traffic offenses after he lost control of his wife's sport utility vehicle yesterday afternoon and crashed into an Essex apartment building, severing a natural gas line that forced the evacuation of between 60 and 90 people, authorities said.

There were no injuries.

The driver, Paul Long, 39, of the 3400 block of McShane Way, was being held last night. He crashed into a taxicab occupied by two passengers and the driver near the 1400 block of Hadwick Drive about 2 p.m., lost control of his wife's 2003 Chevrolet TrailBlazer, went over a curb and crashed into a building at the Kings Mill Apartments, said Officer Chris Markel of the Baltimore County police Essex Precinct. There was minor damage to the building.

There was no fire or explosion and BGE crews arrived a short time after the crash and turned off the gas and electricity.

After the crash, the man exited the SUV and was attempting to change a flat tire when he fled as witnesses gathered at the scene, Markel said.

The crash dislodged the SUV's front bumper with the license plate, making it easy to track down the vehicle's owner, he said.

Long was arrested without incident moments after the crash, nearby in the 700 block of Snowberry Court, Markel said. He said that Long told him, "I just blacked out."

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. There were no signs that drugs or alcohol contributed to the crash, Markel said.

The Baltimore chapter of the American Red Cross was helping displaced residents find shelter last night. They were expected to be able to return to their homes after the gas meter is replaced and the building inspected.

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