Man charged in fatal accident

Delaware resident arrested in death of Maryland teen

June 14, 2008|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Reporter

Delaware State Police arrested a 28-year-old man on probation for a 2004 fatal drunken driving accident and charged him yesterday with vehicular homicide in the death of a Maryland teen last weekend.

Andrew R. Rankin was taken into custody immediately after he was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. He was sent to the Delaware Corrections Center in Smyrna, with bail set at $11,000. As a condition of bail, he has been ordered not to drive.

In addition to vehicular homicide, Rankin, a New Castle, Del., resident, was charged with two counts of vehicular assault and driving under the influence in the crash near Dover, Del., that claimed the life of 17-year-old Brian A. Wilson of Havre de Grace.

Rankin also may be required to serve the remaining two years of a sentence for vehicular homicide and DUI in the death of 20-year-old Cynthia M. Boone.

"He was on probation for the previous offense and has violated probation," said Sgt. Joshua A. Bushweller, a Delaware police spokesman. "He could immediately go back to jail for the violation itself."

Police issued warrants Sunday charging Rankin with the death of Wilson, who was on his way home from a week in Ocean City.

Wilson was riding in the passenger seat of a 1997 Mazda sedan driven by 18-year-old Nathan Flanery, a classmate at Havre de Grace High School. Flanery slowed to avoid a hood that had fallen off a station wagon ahead of them on Route 1 near Dover, authorities said. Rankin, driving a Mercedes sedan with a valid license, failed to reduce speed and rear-ended the Mazda, police said.

Wilson, a scholar-athlete who had won a scholarship to Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, died at Christiana Trauma Center in Newark, Del., early Sunday.

"This is a devastating incident that has us calling again for alcohol ignition interlocks until offenders prove they can drive sober," said Misty Moyse, national spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "These devices are 90 percent effective in reducing repeat offenses and they usually have rehabilitative effects so that we don't have a revolving door of drunk drivers."

The driver has to blow into the device to start the car and retest every 30 minutes.

"Hopefully, this tragedy will bring to light the need for interlocks," said Caroline Cash, MADD director in Maryland and Delaware. "We are trying to make it part of every sentence for drunk driving in Maryland."

Rankin was convicted two years ago in Boone's death, according to records from Superior Court of Delaware. She was a passenger in his car when it slammed into the back of a truck on Interstate 95 in November 2004. In August 2006, he was sentenced to three years with two years suspended.

After completing a year in jail, he was placed on two years' supervised probation with "zero tolerance for any driving charges," according to court records. He was also ordered to seek alcohol rehabilitation treatment and to pay $5,600 in restitution to the Boone family.

Many of Wilson's family and friends have expressed outrage by the notion that his bright promise was destroyed by a drunken driver and repeat offender.

"Rankin killed another person in his previous DUI, and got off basically with a slap on the hand," said Gerry Colman, a friend of the Wilson family.

Family and friends celebrated Wilson's life in a service that drew hundreds to the high school yesterday. Former members of the chorus and band returned to pay tribute to the young man whose expertise on trumpet brought him numerous accolades. His schoolmates have already raised nearly $1,000 for a scholarship in his name.

He was captain of the soccer and lacrosse teams, and won medals on the swim team

"He was a very special young man, and everyone in our community is greatly mourning this tragic and needless loss," said Gary Monath, father of Wilson's classmate and teammate Drew Monath.

M. Patricia Walling, principal of the high school, said the community will continue to help the Wilson family in the months ahead.

"This is a strong, resilient community that will support this family and each other," she said.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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