Chain-reaction crash kills two, injures 6 on I-97 Chain-reaction crash kills 2

6 hurt

Tractor-trailer fails to stop

woman, 7 months pregnant, and her baby die at hospital

May 24, 2008|By Doug Donovan and Nicole Fuller | Doug Donovan and Nicole Fuller,Sun reporters

Walter Sanchez and his seven-months pregnant wife, Maria J. Lizama-Sanchez, were driving south with beach-bound traffic on Interstate 97 yesterday morning when Anne Arundel County police stopped traffic for a funeral procession.

A tractor-trailer that failed to stop plowed into the rear of the Glen Burnie couple's 2001 Dodge Caravan, causing a chain reaction that ended hours later with the deaths of Lizama-Sanchez and her baby despite frantic efforts to save them, according to Maryland State Police.

Four other cars were damaged in the series of crashes.

Lizama-Sanchez, 31, was flown from the accident scene by police helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center to deliver her baby. But shortly after the birth, the baby died at 12:30 p.m. The new mother died less than two hours later, state police said.

The six-vehicle accident marked a tragic start to Memorial Day weekend travel in Maryland, leaving six other people injured and closing the north-south highway for nearly three hours.

State police said that about 11:30 a.m. Anne Arundel County police stopped traffic on southbound I-97 at Route 100 to allow a funeral procession onto the highway. The Volvo tractor-trailer, operated by Lamoyan W. Lee, failed to stop and struck the Sanchez vehicle, forcing it off the left side of the highway, police said.

The truck continued on and struck two Ford pickups, throwing one into a 2008 BMW, which then struck another vehicle. All of the vehicles were stopped for the funeral procession, state police said.

Lt. Frank Fennell of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said the tractor-trailer was on fire when authorities arrived but the blaze was quickly extinguished.

Others injured in the crash were Lee, 34, of Essex; Robert A. Boyer, 40, of Baltimore; James C. Shaffer, 60, and Anne L. Shaffer, 59, of Annapolis; and Johanna C. Warner, 61, of York, Pa. All were taken by ambulance to Baltimore-Washington Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening, police stated. Walter Sanchez, 36, was flown to Shock Trauma but was discharged yesterday.

"I deeply regret the loss of the two lives. On behalf of the citizens of the county, I extend my deepest condolences to the grieving family members," Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold said. "On this holiday weekend, I would ask all citizens to exercise greater caution [while driving.]."

No charges have been filed, police said.

Aside from the accident, the State Highway Administration was reporting routine traffic backups, with delays on eastbound U.S. 50 during the evening rush.

Sun reporter Michael Dresser contributed to this article.

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