Man charged in crash that killed three patients

maryland

June 30, 2007|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,sun reporter

Six months after a car containing two men crashed head-on into a van, claiming the lives of three dialysis patients, Anne Arundel County police say they've determined which one of the pair was behind the wheel.

Police said Fontaine Pridgett, 47, was drunk, high and driving with a revoked license when he lost control of a Mercedes sedan in Annapolis on Dec. 30 and collided with the van, which was transporting four people to dialysis treatment.

Pridgett's arrest is the second in the case. County prosecutors had previously accused Jason Robert Dehn, 25, of driving the vehicle but dropped the charges in January after forensic analyses led to "contradictory results," said Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office.

Riggin and a police spokesman declined to disclose what evidence pointed to Pridgett, but she said the results of a second investigation led to the charges against Pridgett: three counts each of negligent auto manslaughter, plus nearly 30 other criminal and traffic offenses, including driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, knowingly giving false statements to police and driving an unsafe vehicle.

He is being held at the county jail at Jennifer Road on $750,000 bond. No date has been set for a trial, where he could receive a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if found guilty.

Police said both men fled the scene of the accident that caused the deaths of Terry Wayne Wright Sr., 56, Mary Agnes Davis, 48 and Mary Rawlings, 65. Passenger Justice Welch, 37, survived the crash.

According to police, Pridgett was driving the sedan owned by Dehn's former employer on Admiral Drive about 5:30 a.m. when he lost control of the car at the Jennifer Road intersection and struck the van. Dehn was aware the vehicle had faulty brakes, police said.

Pridgett and Dehn approached the van, asked if everyone was all right and then began walking away, according to police reports. Maurice Williams, the van's driver, followed both men for about 200 yards before returning to the crash scene at the instruction of police.

Dehn was found hiding outside the nearby Jennifer Road Detention Center and arrested. Although earlier manslaughter charges against him were dropped, he remains jailed on a charge of violating probation.

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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