Popular Illegal Drag Racing Venue in Baltimore County is Site of Recent Pedestrian Deaths

There is a time and place for everything, but public roads should never be used for illicit racing events. News articles indicate that a recent early-morning drag race that resulted in two pedestrian deaths occurred on a portion of Maryland’s I-70 interstate well known locally for similar illegal speed events. According to authorities, early on the morning of June 21 two young people were killed when one of the drivers lost control of his vehicle and struck several cars and spectators on the side of the roadway.

As an automobile accident attorney, my office is able to represent victims and their families who have experienced a loss such as this, where a pedestrian is injured by a car, SUV or truck. Sadly, this type of accident could have been avoided, especially if the spectators realized the dangers involved. That Sunday morning in Baltimore County, 21-year-old Mary-Kathryn Michele Abernathy of Columbia, MD, and 20-year-old Jonathan Robert Henderson of La Plata in Charles County were killed when a westbound 2009 Chevrolet Impala went out of control. The accident investigation is ongoing and no determination has been made on whether the cause was driver error or defective equipment.

According to police, the accident set off a chain-reaction crash that also caused severe injury to the driver of the Impala, 26-year-old Donneil Raeburn of Pikesville, and Paul Alan Duffy, 22, of Elkridge. The Impala struck a 2004 Cavalier owned by Duffy, who was standing outside his vehicle, which in turn was pushed into the rear of a 1995 Acura Integra owned by Henderson, who had been standing with Abernathy. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Rescue personnel treated Raeburn and Duffy, then sent them to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in critical condition. Raeburn was still in critical condition several days later, while Duffy was treated and released later that day.

This stretch of I-70 is a dead end — undeveloped since the 1980s — which makes it a popular site for young drivers. Local residents are very familiar with the frequent late-night speed events that take place more or less in their backyards. Maryland State Police and the State Highway Administration have been in discussions regarding ways to discourage these activities. Ideas include rumble strips or cameras to monitor activity on that part of the road. The sooner this is addressed the better it will be for everyone, except of those two young adults who senselessly lost their lives that Sunday morning.

Drag racing frequent event at site of deaths on I-70, BaltimoreSun.com, June 24, 2009

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