One year later, fatal hit-and-run crash remains unsolved

  • Skylar Marion, 15, was killed in a hit-and-run on April 12, 2013. Photo courtesy of the family.
Skylar Marion, 15, was killed in a hit-and-run on April 12, 2013.… (Submitted photo )
April 14, 2014|By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

One night last April, Skylar Marion and two friends set out in the dark, down Pasadena's Mountain Road to a nearby convenience store. It started as a trip for snacks on a Friday night, innocent teenage fun for a boy known to be sweet to his female friends.

"What's every 15-year-old's dream?" says Skylar's father, Michael Marion. "Walking down the road with two girls, arm in arm."

The dream turned into a nightmare for Skylar's family, a nightmare that has reverberated through the close-knit Pasadena community. Two-tenths of a mile shy of the convenience store, a Ford Expedition struck Skylar, throwing him into one of the girls.

The Expedition never stopped, leaving behind two wounded teens. The third raced back to Skylar's house for help.

The injured girl eventually recovered from her injuries. Skylar, a Chesapeake High School freshman who loved hot rods and riding bikes, died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center three days after the April 12, 2013, incident.

A year later, reverberations from the accident are still being felt. Police have continued trying to find the driver of the Expedition, spending more than 1,000 man-hours in the search. The Marions have maintained their campaign to keep the case in the public eye. And one of Skylar's classmates, who received his heart, has passed his one-year transplant checkup and is back to playing baseball.

At a vigil over the weekend marking the one-year anniversary of the crash, a pained Michael Marion turned to TV cameras and pleaded for help: "Turn yourself in," he said, addressing the driver of the Expedition. "Save everybody time and help our family."

Mountain Road is notoriously dangerous — there are no sidewalks in that stretch and just a small shoulder — but Skylar's family never worried much. He and his friends were always careful.

"He had walked to that farm store 1,000 times," said Skylar's aunt, Dawn Caley. "Michael sent him that way a million times, and his biggest worry was, 'Take your jacket. It's cold.' You would never think your child would get killed."

Where Skylar once walked countless times, there's a memorial honoring his life where it was taken at the corner of Mountain Road and Alvin Road — and a message for the hit-and-run driver, all in capital letters.

"Look into my face," the posters read. "Look into my eyes. You hit me with your car and left. I was a person, a human being. You took away a son, a grandson, a brother, a best friend. You took away my life. Look into my eyes you coward. May they haunt you for the rest of your life."

Skylar's face looks out from the posters nailed to a utility pole, his eyes peering out from under long, floppy bangs and a hoodie.

No new leads

When traffic investigators from the Anne Arundel County Police Department arrived at the crash scene that Friday night, they thought they had a good shot at finding the driver.

The passenger-side front headlight and turn signal, edged in chrome trim, were left behind. They quickly determined that a 1997-2002 Ford Expedition hit Skylar.

"That night I felt optimistic, having make, model and year range. … We've had some cases solved with less," said Cpl. Greg Russell, the lead crash investigator.

Investigators also were able to determine a partial vehicle identification number. By Monday morning, police had a list from the Motor Vehicle Administration of every vehicle in Pasadena and Glen Burnie that matched the partial VIN.

They checked all of those vehicles. None matched.

They obtained video from businesses up and down Mountain Road. None of the footage showed the SUV.

They visited body shops, car dealerships, parts distributors, junkyards. None of the visits turned up a suspect.

They followed tips to see damaged Expeditions, traveling as far as the Eastern Shore and Quantico, Va. None matched.

At this point, the only hope the police have of solving the case is for someone to step forward with a credible tip or to admit they were the driver that night. Russell believes the driver likely lives or frequents Pasadena and knows full well that he or she hit a child.

The Expedition was westbound, heading away from the end of the Pasadena peninsula toward Glen Burnie. There are few things that would draw someone that far down Mountain Road at 9:25 on a Friday night. The driver likely lives in Pasadena or was visiting someone in Pasadena, Russell said.

"It's not a road you just accidentally drive down," he said.

By now, the Expedition has surely been fixed or junked. Still, police hope the driver or a witness can be persuaded to come forward.

"There's somebody that saw something. Somebody knows something. … The people who know aren't coming forward, and that's disappointing," said Lt. David Ennis, commander of traffic safety. "It angers me that somebody out there knows what happened and they aren't doing the right thing."

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