Edgewood crash

An SUV crashed into a townhouse in the 1900 block of Brookside Drive in Edgewood shortly before noon Tuesday, severing a natural gas line. The neighborhood was evacuated as a precaution until the ruptured line can be repaired. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / The Aegis / April 22, 2014)

Residents of an Edgewood neighborhood were asked to leave their homes after a Ford Explorer crashed into a townhouse early Tuesday afternoon, severing a natural gas line, Harford County police and fire officials said.

The accident occurred just after noon in the 1900 block of Brookside Drive, according to Edward Hopkins, spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

Hopkins said first responders set up a safety zone as a precaution because of the gas leak and asked some residents to leave the townhouse court in the Edgewater Village neighborhood where the home was struck.

At the scene, officers with the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company said they also did not know what caused the accident.

Hopkins, who also went to the scene, said the only occupant of the vehicle was the driver, later identified was Samuel Dowling, born in 1971, of the 1000 block of Waterside Court, who they suspect may have had a medical emergency. Dowling lives in the court opposite from the court where the accident occurred..

The Explorer accelerated speeding through the court and went through a tree and an electrical wire, Hopkins said. He said the vehicle also struck a light post before hitting the house.

Hopkins said a fire was ignited underneath the SUV, which was still running when first responders arrived.

"The wheels were still turning," Hopkins said. "A fire started in the grass under the vehicle. Deputies had to forceably rescue him."

The owner of the townhouse that was struck by the Explorer was not home at the time of the accident, Hopkins said.

Baltimore Gas and Electric crews arrived at the scene around 1 p.m. The gas leak was shut off around 2 p.m.

Hopkins said occupants of several homes were evacuated until the gas leak could be stopped and the line repaired.

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