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Drag racing deaths

Early Sunday's deaths of two young people who were drag racing in Woodlawn makes me wonder if the street racing scene that was so popular in Southern Maryland until last year's tragic accident in Upper Marlboro as migrated north. In that case, eight people who had gathered to watch the race died in the February crash when they were hit by a car traveling about 110 mph without its headlights on.

In Sunday's accident, onn I-70 near the Park and Ride, one car hit at least one bystander and several other cars. At this writing, Maryland State Police are still trying to determine whether the driver was participating in the race or trying to leave.

Police also said that the I-70 section is commonly used for drag racing and that they make frequent checks. It's got a long straight piece of asphalt and plenty of parking. But we've now had two multiple fatal accidents from drag racing in Maryland in the past 16 months, a dangerous not to mention illegal hobby.

Here is the statement from Maryland State Police:

(Woodlawn, MD) - Maryland State Police are continuing their investigation into an early morning crash on Interstate 70 in Baltimore County that claimed two lives and seriously injured two people who were transported to Shock Trauma.

The deceased have been identified as Mary-Kathryn Michele Abernathy, 21, of the 8600-block of Hayshed Lane, Columbia, Maryland and Jonathan Robert Henderson, 20, of the 1400-block of Redwood Circle, La Plata, Maryland. Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel.

The injured have been identified as Donneil Raeburn, 26, of the 4500-block of Dresden Road, Pikesville, Maryland and Paul Alan Duffy, 22, of the 8100-block of Sunrise Lane, Elkridge, Maryland. Raeburn was flown to the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center by a Maryland State Police helicopter with critical injuries. Duffy was transported by ambulance to Shock Trauma with serious injuries.

The preliminary investigation indicates that shortly after 3:00 a.m., a large group of motor vehicles were stopped along the right shoulder of westbound I-70, west of the Park and Ride located at the Baltimore County/Baltimore City line. Several occupants had exited their vehicles and gathered along the right shoulder. For reasons unknown at this time, a westbound 2009 Chevrolet Impala, driven by Donneil Raeburn went out of control and struck the rear of a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier owned by Paul Duffy who was struck as he stood outside of his vehicle.  

The force of the initial impact caused the Chevrolet Cavalier to continue on and strike the rear of a 1995 Acura Integra owned by Jonathan Henderson, who along with Kathryn Abernathy was standing near the Acura. Abernathy and Henderson were traveling together prior to the crash.

Witnesses at the scene advised investigators that they had gathered in the area to witness drag racing when someone observed a Baltimore County Police vehicle traveling eastbound on I-70.  As the police vehicle approached the Park and Ride, the individuals standing on the shoulder began to return to their vehicles and disperse when the crash occurred.  Investigators are attempting to determine if Raeburn was drag racing prior to the crash.     

Police are aware that motorist attempt to gather in that area of I-70. Frequent patrol checks are made to deter any types of illegal activity. Troopers made two checks of that stretch of I-70 less than an hour before the crash. 

Troopers from the Golden Ring Barracks responded to the crash and requested assistance from the Maryland State Police CRASH Team. The CRASH Team will be conducting a detailed reconstruction of the crash.  Alcohol is believed to be contributing factor. 
                 
No charges have been filed in connection with the crash at this time. The investigation is continuing. 

Personnel from the State Highway Administration responded to assist with detours around the crash scene. Due to the extensive crash scene and the number of people injured, westbound I-70 remained closed for about five hours. 

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