Mid, 20, killed in auto crash

Victim was passenger

alcohol possible factor, Arundel police say

November 25, 2006|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,sun reporter

A car crash early yesterday that killed a Naval Academy junior from Edgewater and injured the driver appears to have been alcohol-related, Anne Arundel County police said.

Midshipman Charles B. Carr, 20, was killed about 1:30 a.m. when the 1997 BMW sports coupe in which he was a passenger went off Glen Isle Road near Riva Road in the Davidsonville area and struck a tree, county police said,

A county Fire Department spokesman said that the BMW driver, Patrick Tormay Britton-Harr of Pensacola, Fla., was taken by helicopter to Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly with arm and leg injuries that were classified as nonlife-threatening.

"There was evidence that indicated that both the driver and the passenger ... had been drinking prior to the collision," the police said in a news release. A blood sample from Britton-Harr will be tested by the state police crime lab.

The case is being reviewed by the state's attorney's office, county police said. A police spokeswoman, Officer Sara Schriver, said in an e-mail response to questions yesterday afternoon that investigators had yet to extensively interview Britton-Harr, 22. The e-mail did not address whether speed was a factor in the crash.

Carr's death comes amid a high-profile effort by the superintendent of the academy, Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, to reduce excessive drinking by midshipmen.

"The Naval Academy is deeply saddened by this sudden and tragic loss," Rempt said in a statement yesterday. "Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to his family."

Officials for the police and the academy offered few details about Carr, also known as "Ben."

Cmdr. Ed Austin, a Naval Academy spokesman, said school officials had been in contact with the Carr family about a possible memorial service, but that more details would be available Monday.

Carr was a 2004 graduate of St. Mary's High School in Annapolis and played lacrosse there. In 2004, he was among 18 high school students in Anne Arundel County to begin attending the academy, according to The Capital newspaper in Annapolis.

Matt Hogan, Carr's high school lacrosse coach, had worked as an assistant for 13 years for Navy's varsity team before moving on to St. Mary's. He said Carr had the temperament to succeed at the academy, along with supportive parents.

"Ben was diligent, focused and persevered," Hogan said in a phone interview. "He had a goal to go to the academy, and he pursued that diligently."

A defenseman, Carr played lacrosse all four years at St. Mary's, the last two on the varsity. Hogan said Carr's work ethic and maturity stood out on the lacrosse field.

"Ben was just the kind that didn't get caught up in typical high school stuff," Hogan said. "That's why this was shocking. ... He was a no-nonsense guy, mature. I loved having Ben on our team."

Authorities said they have not been able to determine where Carr and Britton-Harr were headed. They were traveling north when the BMW veered off the right side of Glen Isle Road and hit four wooden posts before crashing into a tree, police said.

Rempt has stepped up efforts recently to curtail alcohol use by midshipmen - even those 21 and older. Under a policy that was put in place in August, academy officials were to give Breathalyzer tests each week to 840 midshipmen, or about a fifth of the student body.

Alcohol abuse has been linked to at least two deaths at Bancroft Hall since 2002 - when midshipmen under the influence of alcohol fell to their deaths at the student dormitory - and several alleged sexual assaults.

Austin said that officials there would wait for the county police to finish their investigation before deciding whether to look into the matter further.

A person who answered the phone at the Edgewater home of Carr's parents said all statements by the family would be made through the academy.

Hogan said that several of Carr's former teammates had gathered at the parents' home.

phill.mcgowan@baltsun.com

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