A 23-year-old man who was killed in a double-fatal car accident Thursday night in Fells Point was a homecoming king who was close to graduating from Morgan State University, according to police and school officials.
Julian Benson was the 2010 Mr. Morgan, according to university spokesman Clinton R. Coleman, and was a popular student on campus. He was studying telecommunications and had interned for two years in the communications department at the Maryland Transit Administration. School officials said he had two classes remaining before graduating.
"This is incredibly sad to learn about," said Jawauna Greene, the director of communications for the MTA. "It's devastating. He smiled all the time, from ear to ear. The first day he came in for an interview, we hired him."
Baltimore police said Benson was driving a Dodge Durango north on South Broadway when the accident occurred about 10:30 p.m. Thursday. Police said the Dodge collided with a Mitsubishi Eclipse.
Detective Jeremy Silbert, a city police spokesman, said investigators think one of the vehicles was speeding. Police are trying to determine whether one vehicle went through a red light at the intersection, he said.
Benson, whose address was listed by police as Somerdale, N.J., died at Johns Hopkins Hospital. A front-seat passenger in the Mitsubishi, identified as Zoey Crumpton, 18, of Baltimore, also died at Hopkins, according to police. Silbert said a passenger in the Dodge and the driver of the Mitsubishi suffered minor injuries. They were not identified.
The police spokesman said investigators are interviewing several witnesses to the accident.
Greene said her office at the MTA hired Benson as an intern two years ago. He helped launch the department's social media efforts, set up and staffed festivals, worked at the Baltimore Grand Prix and coordinated video and writing projects. He also staffed the MTA's Twitter account.
Greene described the lanky young man as "very well put together."
"So many young people are nervous," Greene said. "He was incredibly confident. He hit the ground running."
The spokeswoman credited Benson with coming up with the agency's marketing slogan, "Ride, Respect, Relax." He also worked on the MTA's "If you see something, say something" public safety campaign.
Greene said that she had Benson over for dinner and that he took her 17-year-old son, Michael, under his wing, trying to persuade him to go to Morgan. "He showed my son how to dress," she said. "He showed him how to not only be a professional, but to let his personality shine through."
She said her son is considering attending Morgan, where students were in mourning Friday and counselors were helping grieving students. Benson's Facebook page shows that he was on numerous student leadership boards and groups, including one called Morgan Mile. He also mentored young students and was voted both Mr. Freshman and Mr. Sophomore.