Authorities in Prince George's County say they are optimistic that they can curtail the kind of dead-of-night drag races that set the stage for the deaths last weekend of eight spectators on a dark rural road.
"We're going to look at this both as a law enforcement and an engineering standpoint," Sharon Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Prince George's County Police Department, said yesterday. "There are some opportunities for using technology here."
FOR THE RECORD - An article in Thursday's editions on a fatal accident in Prince George's County misstated the date on which charges in a previous case were filed against the man who police said was driving a vehicle that struck several bystanders. Charges that the man had been driving a 1999 Buick with a child passenger not properly restrained were filed in May 2007.
The Sun regrets the error.
Taylor said police are considering placing cameras on remote highways favored by the growing number of drag racers and their followers, who use use stealth and mobility to hold often impromptu competitions and to disappear rapidly when alerted to the proximity of police.
The idea, Taylor said, is to "slow some people down or to stop criminal activity and stop people from going through these fluid borders of ours."
The accident occurred early Saturday when a Ford Crown Victoria slammed into a crowd watching cars race on Route 210, a four-lane, unlighted road where visibility might have been further hampered by smoke from squealing tires.
The Ford's driver, Darren J. Bullock, 20, was not seriously injured. A decision on whether to charge him awaits the outcome of an investigation into the accident's cause. Bullock was first identified by The Washington Post and then by the Associated Press.
He could not be reached for comment yesterday by The Sun. Bullock's uncle, James Walls, with whom Bullock lives in Waldorf, told the Associated Press that his nephew was traumatized by the crash and has been "like a zombie" since it occurred, the AP reported yesterday.
"We feel sorry for the victims," Walls told the news service, adding that his nephew is "pretty much a victim, too." Walls said Bullock is the father of two children, including a baby girl born Monday night.
Bullock was driving on a suspended driver's license, Motor Vehicle Administration spokesman Buel C. Young said. On March 27, according to court records, Bullock is scheduled to go on trial in Charles County District Court to answer charges filed in May 1999 that a child riding in a Buick he was driving was unrestrained by a seat belt or child's seat.
On April 8 in the same La Plata courthouse, Bullock is to stand trial on a year-old charge that he stole property worth less than $500, according to court records.
Police have said there is no evidence that Bullock was participating in the road race early Saturday or that he knew it was taking place. Authorities have said he was driving on the road and didn't see the bystanders because of smoke from racer squealing their tires on the asphalt.
Police are searching for the drivers involved in the race and are pleading with other witnesses to come forward.
"They don't sometimes take into consideration that it's flat-out unsafe because it's not a controlled atmosphere," said Stan Proctor, a veteran drag-racer from Clinton who races only on professional tracks, which use concrete and steel barriers to protect spectators from errant race cars.
In an unregulated, freewheeling road race, "there's nothing to protect you should something go astray with a vehicle," said Proctor, 65, who has raced since he was 16 and is president of the Quartermasters Racing Team, which has more than 20 drivers of dragsters and "door cars," which are production models - 1995 Chevrolet Camaros, for example - modified with lighter bodies and faster engines, and capable of speeds exceeding 150 mph.
Such cars never race on ordinary roads, Proctor said, nor should they. Street racers usually use less formidable vehicles.
Sun reporter Gus G. Sentementes contributed to this article.