25 years ago: Two on-duty troopers killed in Harford by suspected drunk driver

March 07, 2012

From The Aegis of March 12, 1987:

A Maryland State Police trooper and recruit were killed in a crash while they were on duty on I-95 this week 25 years ago.

TFC John E. Sawa, 40, of Baltimore, and Trooper Larry E. Small, 21, of Cardiff, died when their patrol car, sitting in the median on I-95 near Route 155 at Havre de Grace, was hit by a tractor trailer. Police suspected the driver of the tractor trailer was drunk.

Mr. Small was on his last day of his required 40-day supervised field patrol and was to assume full-time duties on his own the next day.

Mr. Sawa and Mr. Small were sitting in the median around 4:30 a.m. to exchange papers with another trooper. They were sitting next to each other when the third officer saw the tractor trailer coming and was able to get out of the way. He yelled to his colleagues, but they didn't have enough time to move.

The driver was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated.

Aberdeen Proving Ground was facing the loss of 220 high-paying jobs, with a payroll of $12 million, if plans announced 25 years ago this week to relocate a branch of the National Guard to Virginia were carried out.

State lawmakers, however, were given assurances those 220 or so jobs would be protected and other positions would be "backslided" to the Aberdeen post.

The jobs proposed to move were grades 9 to 15 on the government's pay scale.

The town of Bel Air needed to find another water source 25 years ago, according to an in-house study by the private supplier of drinking water to the town. The town could not have any water at all during a severe drought and would have insufficient supplies for seven days during a normal year and 40 days during dry year, according to the report done by American Water Work's System Engineering Department.

It was estimated that by the year 2000, the town could be a minimum of 700,000 gallons, and as much as 2.5 million gallons short, of potable water each day.

Susan McComas and Geoffrey Close were elected to the Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners 25 years ago this week.

Close, who had been the town's mayor, or, more properly, chairman of the town commissioners, the previous five years, was re-elected as expected, but McComas' election came as a bit of a surprise, as she beat former town police chief J. Vaughan McMahan. Voter turnout in the election was the lowest in recent history, with 673 of 4,422 registered voters casting a ballot for a 15.2 percent turnout.

McComas acknowledged the light voter turnout could have helped her.

"It was just very, very cold today," she said. "The weather inhibits people from coming out to vote whereas if we had the election in May the interest in the other [town] elections could carry us along or if it were in September we would have all summer to campaign." In those days, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace both had elections in May.

A Joppatowne man was rescued by firefighters from his burning apartment 25 years ago this week. The 64-year-old was found unconscious on the kitchen floor and was taken outside; life support efforts began immediately. He was ultimately flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

A 4-year-old girl was attacked and bitten by a rabid raccoon in Bel Air 25 years ago this week; she was required to undergo a series of shots. The girl's mom heard her daughter outside, went out and carried her back inside.

Two neighbors chased the raccoon, cornered it and beat it to death with rocks and sticks. It was picked up by the State Health Department and tested positive for rabies. The girl began shots after being notified the test was positive.

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