Driver of truck charged in accident that killed River Hill football player

School to honor athlete with award, scholarship

December 01, 2009|By Don Markus | don.markus@baltsun.com

A 17-year-old high school football player who died early Sunday when the pickup truck in which he was riding crashed on a rural Howard County road will be memorialized with an award and scholarship fund in his name at River Hill High School.

In a statement released Monday, River Hill Principal William Ryan said donations to the school in memory of Steven Dankos can be made in lieu of flowers. Dankos, who was riding in the bed of a truck driven by the older brother of one of his best friends and teammates, died instantly when the pickup crashed and overturned, according to police.

David Erdman, a 22-year-old former River Hill football standout who went on to become a Division III All-American at Wesley College in Dover, Del., has been charged by Howard County police with driving under the influence, negligent manslaughter by motor vehicle and negligent homicide by motor vehicle.

Erdman was arrested after being released Sunday from Howard County General Hospital. He is free on $10,000 bond. His 17-year-old brother, Thomas, was released from Maryland Shock Trauma Center on Sunday and is recovering at home, according to Ryan's statement. Thomas Erdman was riding inside the pickup, police said.

According to police, the accident occurred shortly before 3 a.m. on Folly Quarter Road at Buckskin Lake Drive when David Erdman lost control of his truck, crashing into several ornamental stone pillars. Dankos was thrown from the truck bed and pronounced dead at the scene.

It is not known where the three were coming from or where they were headed. Investigators are still trying to determine whether the two teenagers had been drinking and whether they knew David Erdman was impaired, as police allege.

David Erdman Sr. declined to comment Monday, referring all calls to his attorney. The elder Erdman said he had been in touch with Dankos' mother, Nancy Davis, but would not talk about their conversation. Davis could not be reached for comment.

Dankos' family will receive friends at St. Mark the Evangelist Church, 7501 Adelphi Road in Hyattsville, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. A service for Dankos will be held there at 10 a.m. Thursday, with a burial to follow immediately at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.

Ryan requested that River Hill students who plan to attend the memorial and funeral services be accompanied by an adult. "Young people should not go through this experience alone and will likely need adult support during this difficult time," Ryan said in the statement.

A Howard County crisis intervention team, including psychologists and grief counselors, met Sunday and was at River Hill High School on Monday.

The accident took place a little more than a day after River Hill's 10-7 loss at Calvert County's Huntingtown High School in the state 3A football semifinals. It was River Hill's first defeat since the 2006 Class 2A semifinals, a stretch that included 40 straight wins and two state 2A titles.

Though River Hill coach Brian van Deusen could not be reached for comment, Huntingtown coach Jerry Franks said he would talk with his players before they practiced later this week for the state final.

"It's a very eye-opening experience and wake-up call for me," Franks said Monday. "It's just tragic, just absolutely tragic. It's a waste of a life - a very good football player had a nice future. It's all been taken away."

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