With the traffic death of a young teen in Salisbury a couple weeks ago following a police chase, we happened to run across an older news report from last fall involving a police-related traffic accident. In that earlier incident, several teenagers were seriously hurt when the vehicle in which they were traveling was involved in a collision with a police cruiser that ran through a red light in Northwest Baltimore. At the time of the collision the officer reportedly had his emergency lights on; however, that fact didn’t change the severity of the injuries sustained by three of the young men in the car that fateful morning.
Of course, one cannot have a discussion of injuries caused by car, truck or motorcycle accidents without acknowledging that the leading cause of death for children in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is highway wrecks. While the incident in question involved a number of older teenagers, the fact that more than 1,000 kids 15 years and under lose their lives every year is not insignificant.
In fact, if we consider the Maryland statistics regarding auto-related injuries and deaths for children older than four years of age, the trend has been heading downward over the past several years, at least through 2011 when there were 280 child deaths attributed to traffic accidents. While it is heartening to see a reduction in the rate of fatal incidents involving children, we must say that any death is one too many.
As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we know that driving age teens and young adults are also at great risk of injury or death as well; Looking at the national figures from 2009, for instance, out of almost 34,000 fatalities on U.S. roadways, more than 700 involved children 10 to 15 years old. But consider the figure for those individuals age 16 to 20 years and you can see a drastic increase: nearly 4000 deaths. It’s relatively clear that when youngsters hit driving age, their chances for injury or death in a car or commercial trucking wreck go way up.
As for those teens who were seriously hurt back in November, according to news reports, the incident took place in the early morning hours at the Baltimore intersection of Eutaw Pl. and Whitelock St. Based on police reports, seven teenagers were riding in the vehicle as it began crossing the intersection with the green light. Suddenly, a police cruiser that was reportedly responding to an emergency call came through the intersection from the cross street and two vehicles collided.
According to news articles, relatives of the victims stated that the officer did not allow the 17-year-old driver a chance to stop before he drove into the intersection. The crash took place around 3am on a Saturday morning and resulted in injuries to three of the kids. Based on news reports at the time of the crash, two of the victims sustained broken necks and possible spinal cord injuries, while the driver suffered a crushed pelvis during the wreck.
From the description provided by the news article, it was not clear whether the police cruised struck the teens’ car or vice versa. According to the news report, police policy requires officers on emergency runs to stop at red lights before proceeding; however, no fault was placed on the officer or the other driver at the time of the news article. In an effort to determine responsibility for the crash, police investigators were looking into the facts of the case by interviewing those in the car at the time of the crash and any other witnesses to the collision. The authorities were also reviewing the local surveillance cameras in an effort to determine the sequence of events leading up to and during the accident.
Several Teens Injured In Police-Involved Accident, CBSLocal.com, November 18, 2012