Maryland Traffic Injury News: Fatal Anne Arundel County Auto Wreck Kills Well-known Jazz Musician

If anyone needs an example of the many senseless and deadly car, truck and motorcycle accidents that take the lives of thousands every year in this country, it would be the recent automobile crash that killed jazz bassist Joe Byrd just last week. Right off the bat, we should mention that Mr. Byrd was the victim here, killed as a result of a two vehicle collision that police say was caused by another driver with an apparently bad driving record.

As Maryland personal injury attorneys, I and my colleagues have seen too many people killed, maimed or disabled for life to believe that fate is kind to those people caught in serious car accidents. From drunken drivers to aggressive individuals behind the wheel, too many passenger vehicle and commercial trucking accidents happen as a result of inattention, distraction, speeding, or just plain negligence.

According to news reports, the accident that killed Mr. Byrd was not caused by a driver unaccustomed to run-ins with the law. The suspect apparently had a great many instances of having his license suspended for likely serious traffic offences. I’m sure that many people have heard the voices of safety advocates calling for stricter measures for multiple traffic offenders; here is one example of how one individual essentially stole the life of another.

Naturally, a court will have to decide the outcome of this incident, but the damage has already been done; sadly, the world has lost one more talented individual to another driver’s foolish and deadly actions.

Based on reports out of the Anne Arundel County police department, the fatal deadly collision occurred last week at the intersection of Lee Airpark Dr and Solomons Island Rd. Byrd was reportedly behind the wheel of a Volvo wagon and apparently trying to make a left-hand turn from Lee Airpark when he was hit by a south-bound sport utility vehicle that reportedly ran a red light.

Police and emergency responders arrived following the crash, which happened just before 3pm, to find the 78-year-old Byrd suffering from what authorities described as life-threatening injuries. Based on police reports, Byrd was trapped in his vehicle along in the southbound lanes of Md. Rte 2, near the Lee Airport. EMS crews got the victim out of his car and then transported him to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he died of cardiac arrest.

The vehicle that hit Byrd’s car was a 2003 GMC Yukon, which was reportedly being driven by 27-year-old Edward M. Cramer of Lothian, MD. According to the news, Cramer allegedly has a long history of traffic-related offenses to his name.

According to court records uncovered by local news sources, at the time of the accident, Cramer had a hearing pending for an arrest last January in Calvert County where he apparently was charged with operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license. Amazingly, Cramer has been arrested on numerous occasions for driving under a suspended license and/or registration, as well as failure to stay on his side of the roadway.

As far back as 2006, according to news reports, the man had been arrested by police for certain traffic offenses, which apparently included driving an uninsured and unregistered vehicle. This past January, Cramer pleaded guilty to a charge of speeding in Calvert County; however, in this latest incident, police stated that there was no evidence that excessive speed or alcohol use were factors in the crash. (There was also no mention of a possible mechanical problem with the suspect’s vehicle.)

At the time of the news article, police investigators stated that their initial investigation showed “driver error” to be a possible contributing factor in the fatal wreck. However, a statement out of the Anne Arundel Co. State’s Attorney’s Office indicated that prosecutors would wait for the police investigation to be completed prior to deciding if any charges would be lodged against Cramer in connection with the fatal collision.

According to news reports, Gene “Joe” Byrd, who lived in Edgewater, was the youngest brother of guitar legend Charlie Byrd and played bass for years with the Charlie Byrd Trio. A jazz bassist for 50 years, Byrd reportedly played in Washington, D.C., at the White House for Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. For nearly a quarter century, Byrd reportedly regularly played the King of France Tavern at the Maryland Inn in downtown Annapolis.

Bassist Joe Byrd dies in Edgewater crash,, March 7, 2011
Jazz bassist Joe Byrd dies after Annapolis crash,, March 7, 2012

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