Death in Prince George's unrelated to storm, police say

Man crushed under van while changing a tire

October 30, 2012|By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

A 35-year-old Capitol Heights man was killed early Tuesday morning while changing a tire on a rented vehicle, but the death was not related to massive storm Sandy passing through the area, according to Prince George's County police.

About 2 a.m., police were called to the intersection of Nova Avenue and Rail Street in Capitol Heights for a report of a man trapped under a van.

When they arrived, they found Aaron Jerome Smith, of the 4300 block of Torque St. in Capitol Heights, underneath the van with significant trauma, said Capt. Joe Hoffman, of the police department's homicide division. Smith was later pronounced dead.

A friend who lived at the location told police he had come out of his home about 1:30 a.m. to find his rented van with a flat tire, Hoffman said. He called Smith to assist him with changing the tire, he told police.

When Smith arrived, the pair lifted the van on a jack but were unaware of a separate mechanism that had to be engaged to remove a tire, Hoffman said. When the tire would not come off, Smith crawled underneath the van and began trying to pull the tire off, Hoffman said.

The jack holding the van off the ground then gave way and the van came down on Smith, Hoffman said.

The Associated Press had previously reported that Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland's health secretary, said the death was likely related to the storm, but Hoffman said that is not the case.

Smith's death remains under investigation, Smith said.

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