2 die, 4 hurt in rush-hour crash on Bel Air Bypass

Woman, child killed were among four in minivan hit head-on

November 08, 2008|By David Kohn and Sara Neufeld | David Kohn and Sara Neufeld,david.kohn@baltsun.com and sara.neufeld@baltsun.com

A woman and a child were killed and four other people were injured last night in a crash involving three vehicles on Harford County's Bel Air Bypass.

The accident occurred about 5 p.m. on U.S. 1 just north of the Vale Road overpass. It took rescue workers until nearly 9 p.m. to retrieve the woman's body from the Saturn Relay minivan, said Elena Russo, a state police spokeswoman.

According to Russo, Christopher Lentz, 37, of Glen Arm was southbound on the shoulder of the road when he lost control of his Jeep Cherokee. Lentz's vehicle crossed over the median and crashed head-on into the Saturn, which was northbound. The Saturn spun around and crashed into a 2004 Ford van behind it.

Police were investigating what caused Lentz to lose control of his vehicle. The bypass was expected to be closed until 11:30 last night.

The Saturn carried four passengers, none of whom was identified last night: the deceased woman and child, a man and a second child, both of whom survived the crash. The man - the van's driver - and Lentz were flown via medevac helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where Lentz was listed in serious condition last night. The surviving child, also airlifted in a medevac helicopter, was taken to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Hospital officials would not comment on the conditions of the man and child until their identities are released. Police were trying to notify family members last night.

The driver of the Ford, identified as Brian Kearchner, 36, of Delta, Pa., was taken by ambulance to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. He was listed in good condition last night.

Ken and Jackie Pakulski, who live near the bypass, said they heard the crash.

"It was like a big boom," Ken Pakulski said. "It sounded like a thud hit my house."

Jackie Pakulski said the bypass is a risky stretch of road.

In May 2007, one person was killed and another injured in a head-on collision on the bypass south of the Winters Run bridge.

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