Two separate car accidents in the space of about six hours Tuesday, Feb. 21 sent two Marriotts Ridge High School students, a recent graduate from the school and a Marriotts Ridge faculty member to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
In the first accident, at about 2:35 p.m., three teens were hurt, two with life-threatening injuries, after the vehicle they were in collided with a school bus on Route 40 in Ellicott City.
No students were on the bus at the time, police said.
The vehicle's driver, Stephen Drago, 18, of Ellicott City, and Patrick Moore, 16, of Ellicott City, who was a passenger on the right rear side, were taken by helicopter to the Shock Trauma Center with life-threatening injuries, police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said.
The right front passenger, Thomas Drago, 17, of Ellicott City, was taken by ambulance to the same hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Llewellyn said.
Stephen Drago and Moore were listed in critical condition Thursday, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Thomas Drago was in fair condition, she said.
Moore and Thomas Drago are students at Marriotts Ridge High School, while Stephen Drago graduated from there in 2011, according to school officials.
A second crash Tuesday night, this one in Columbia, left a Marriotts Ridge faculty member in serious condition.
Advanced Placement coordinator Mary Ann Cecile Levant was listed in serious condition at Shock Trauma.
Levant, 64, of the 9600 block of Cold Star Court, in Columbia, was driving east on Route 32 near Route 29 at about 8:46 p.m. when her vehicle, a 2003 Toyota Avalon, lost control and struck a guardrail on the right shoulder, police said. The vehicle then collided with a 1996 Ford Explorer that was also headed east on Route 32. No one else was hurt in the crash.
Police said excessive speed contributed to the crash, which remains under investigation.
Police said the crash between Stephen Drago's car and the bus happened when the vehicle Drago was driving, a 2009 Honda CRV, turned left off eastbound Route 40 toward Pebble Beach Drive. The bus, which was headed west on Route 40, collided with the passenger side of the Honda.
The bus had a green light and right of way at the intersection, Llewellyn said. Neither its driver, Ann Marie Mullinix, 52, of Sykesville, nor bus aide Ruth Mathis, 53, of West Friendship, suffered injuries in the crash.
The bus normally transports county school students and is owned by Glenelg-based Kam Enterprises, police said.
Counselors have been made available to students at Marriotts Ridge, Principal Adrianne Kaufman said Wednesday morning.
"It's traumatic and it's shocking and it's horribly difficult for kids to see their friends in this kind of serious situation," Kaufman said. "We're going to do our best to support them and comfort them and respond to them as needed. We're keeping the families in our thoughts and prayers."
All three teens live in the Turf Valley Overlook development, neighbors said.
The neighbors said the intersection where the collision occurred has a history of crashes — and it was worse before left-turn signals were installed.
"It's a very dangerous intersection," said Mike Harrigan, who has lived for about two decades on Pebble Beach Drive in the house closest to where the crash occurred. He said he was home and heard the sound of the collision.
There are green arrows on the turn signals directing vehicles making left turns from Route 40 onto either Route 144 or Pebble Beach Drive, the neighbors said. But there used to be only green lights that required drivers to yield before turning.
Driver turning left onto Route 40 must still yield to oncoming traffic.
"It seemed like there was an accident about every other day" back then, Harrigan said. Since the green arrows began, he said, "There haven't been as many. There are only a couple a year that are really bad."
The crash happened at the same intersection where an auxiliary Howard County police officer was injured in 2005. Pieter Lucas was standing on westbound Route 40 when a vehicle struck him; part of his left leg had to be amputated because of his injuries, according to The Baltimore Sun.
"When all my kids were learning to drive, I would not let them take that left turn," Harrigan said. "Even with the arrow."
No charges have been filed. The crash remains under investigation, police said.