Va. trucker in fatal crash is due in court

Accident at faulty signal killed 2 teens

January 31, 2007|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,sun reporter

The driver of a tractor-trailer involved in a crash that killed two teenagers last year at a nonworking Howard County traffic light is scheduled in court tomorrow to continue fighting two traffic citations stemming from the incident.

Gary L. Dicks, 24, of Stephens City, Va., was charged with negligent driving and failure to stop at a through highway entrance and yield right of way.

After an hour of arguments between prosecutors and Dicks' defense attorney in November, Howard County District Court judge Pamila J. Brown recessed the case and ordered a continuation to give lawyers a chance to present more information to support their positions. Tomorrow's trial is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Police said that about 10:30 p.m. Jan. 6 last year Dicks was on the exit ramp off southbound Interstate 95 and drove his tractor-trailer through the westbound lane of traffic on Route 175, according to an agreed-upon statement of facts presented by prosecutors.

The light at the intersection was not working because of a power outage. Dicks' vehicle crashed into the passenger side of a 1996 Volvo 850, killing passengers Scott E. Caplan, 19, of Columbia and Theresa E. Howard, 18, of Eldersburg. The Volvo's driver, Meghan E. St. Martin, 18, of Marriottsville, was treated at a hospital and released.

Dicks' attorney, Timothy S. Mitchell, argued that his client had the right of way at the intersection because he was traveling on the preferred roadway. Mitchell has said that crash investigators incorrectly interpreted the state code that defines the major roadway.

Assistant State's Attorney Danielle M. Duclaux argued that because Dicks told investigators he saw that the traffic light was not working, he should have stopped at the intersection.

Both attorneys declined to comment when questioned this week about the case.

Howard County's state's attorney's office has said Dicks' actions did not warrant prosecution on more serious charges such as vehicular manslaughter.

Dicks' legal battles don't end with tomorrow's verdict.

Dicks has pending civil cases in Howard County Circuit Court. A victim and families of the crash victims have accused him of wrongful death and negligence.

The parents of Caplan and Howard have filed separate $5 million wrongful-death lawsuits against Dicks. St. Martin has filed $300,000 negligence lawsuit against him.

Also named in the suits are the Virginia-based trucking company that Dicks worked for, the state of Maryland, Maryland State Police, and a former Howard County police officer who left the nonworking traffic signal before putting up a warning device.

The parents of Caplan and Howard are also claiming that St. Martin was at fault in the death of their children.

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