Driver gets 6-month jail sentence in death of teen on bike

Home detention, drug treatment and fine also part of Ph.D. student's sentence

September 28, 2010|By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun

A 27-year-old West Friendship man will spend six months in jail after pleading guilty Tuesday to driving while impaired in the death of a 16-year-old Elkridge boy who had snuck out of his house around midnight with to bicycle to a local convenience store with two friends.

Aaron Jacob Lorsong, a Ph.D. student and medical researcher, hit the rear of Benjamin Wortman's bicycle on Route 108 about a mile from the youth's home at 12:34 a.m. Aug. 28, 2009. Lorsong told police the boy was in the roadway in front of his Nissan Altima. Wortman died later at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, but his donated organs helped five people, his family said.

Police found heroin in Lorsong's pocket, said that his eyes were constricted and that he failed a field sobriety test, but officers never tested his blood for alcohol. He blew a .05 on the breathalyzer, which is lower than the legal limit of .08, according to information presented to Howard County Circuit Judge Timothy J. McCrone. Lorsong admitted he is a heroin addict, and also pleaded guilty to possession of the drug.

Under the plea agreement, Lorsong, who is now a Virginia resident, had a four-year prison term suspended and will spend six months in the Howard County jail and another six months on home detention, except for work and addiction treatment. He also received three years of supervised probation and a $500 fine.

"You can't possibly appreciate the amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into raising a child," McCrone told Lorsong, who has no children. "To see all that torn away because you indulged yourself with drugs and alcohol, it's tragic."

Lorsong apologized to Wortman's family and friends, but his lawyer, Andrew Alperstein, told the judge that expert witnesses were prepared to testify that the youth had been in the travel lane when he was struck, not off on the side. Alperstein said the same fatal accident could have happened to a sober driver under the circumstances.

Wortman's parents also spoke at the sentencing.

"Words do not adequately reflect the effect Ben's death has had on me," Peggy Wortman, the boy's mother, tearfully told the judge. "He was always such a happy-go-lucky kid," who began reading on his own at age 3, and loved working with computers and playing guitar. He often went barefoot and had friends over for pizza and movies on Friday nights.

After his death, his mother said, grief caused her to lose her job, and her husband, Odin, later lost his job as well. Their home was foreclosed on and she filed for personal bankruptcy, though a civil insurance settlement with Lorsong's insurer and new jobs have helped them begin to recover financially.

"It's like a chunk hacked out of you," Odin Wortman added.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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