By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun
7:48 PM EDT, July 22, 2013
If it was a Saturday morning and the weather was nice, you could find Katie and Wil Brady on their bikes, exploring trails around the Baltimore region.
That was until 2008, when the Perry Hall mother and her 8-year-old son were killed in a car crash on their way to a Scout camping event. Brady's husband and her younger son, Ian, survived the head-on collision on the Bel Air Bypass in Harford County.
Five years later, funds donated in their honor will help extend a hiking and biking trail at the Marshy Point Nature Center in Middle River, letting visitors enjoy more of the site on the Chesapeake Bay.
"We wanted to find something that everyone could use and enjoy, because that was how Katie and Wil were," said Katie Brady's sister, Kelly Lane.
Baltimore County officials are set to announce Tuesday a $205,000 extension of the park's main trail and pedestrian bridge, funded mostly through private donations.
Brady was 31 when she was killed. After the crash, donations started pouring in from people who wanted to help the family, Lane said. She still remembers the single mother who sent her $5.
Brady's husband, Steve, was adamant that the money should help create something in Katie and Wil's memory, not to pay for his medical bills, Lane said. The family wanted county residents to have access to a kid-friendly trail.
The trail extension, set to open by fall, will connect one side of the park with about 200 acres on the other, said Kirk Dreier, senior naturalist at Marshy Point.
"The citizens of Baltimore County will be the recipients of a great gift," Dreier said. "You're looking at a great place for exercise, a great place to enjoy nature at leisure with a pair of binoculars."
Katie Brady, a radiology technician, grew up in Perry Hall and met her husband when she was 16. Wil, a third-grader at St. John the Evangelist School, loved soccer and swimming, once dressing up as Michael Phelps for Halloween.
Since the accident, the Katie and Wil Brady Memorial Foundation has raised $107,000 for the trail project, organizing fundraisers such as bull roasts and Christmas concerts. Another $20,000 was donated by the Marshy Point Nature Center Council, county officials said.
Two companies also donated services for engineering, environmental and design work, said county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler. Site Resources Inc. provided services valued at $44,800 and Eco-Science Professionals Inc. performed work worth $9,300, she said.
County officials anticipate getting the remaining funds from the state's Program Open Space, Kobler said.
The Bradys' deaths led some local politicians to push for changes on the Bel Air Bypass.
After the crash, the State Highway Administration made short-term improvements that included making headlight use mandatory and installing center-line rumble strips, said SHA spokesman David Buck. Last year, the agency finished a $1.8 million project to add a center-line guardrail in the bypass' two-lane section, he said.
The driver who struck the Bradys pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter.
Lane said she doesn't want to dwell on the accident.
"They would want us to celebrate," she said of her sister and nephew.
Her sister devoted herself to family, and Lane hopes the trail will give others the opportunity to spend time together.
"I cannot express the importance of family," Lane said. "People forget it until it's too late."
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