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29-year-old Columbia man killed by suspected drunken driver was kind older brother and ‘forgiving Orioles fan’

James Nicholas Khoury, 29, of Columbia was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver on Interstate 95 in Arbutus on Sept. 26, 2019. - Original Credit:
James Nicholas Khoury, 29, of Columbia was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver on Interstate 95 in Arbutus on Sept. 26, 2019. - Original Credit:(Family photo / HANDOUT)

Maryland State Police on Friday identified the man killed the day before by a suspected drunken driver in Arbutus as James Nicholas Khoury, 29, of Columbia.

James Nicholas Khoury was on the side of Interstate 95 Thursday with his disabled Toyota Yaris when a white Ford van drifted to the shoulder and sideswiped Khoury and his vehicle, according to police and his family. Khoury died on the scene.

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The driver of the Ford, Cesar Jariel Morel-Cruz of Baltimore, stayed on the scene and was arrested by police for suspected driving under the influence, according to police.

Polly Khoury said her son was “the best son you could ever hope for and a wonderful big brother to his sister, Laura."

She said he was on his way to work early Thursday morning at a legal research firm in Washington, D.C., when his Yaris broke down and he pulled over to the shoulder on I-95. He spoke to his dad and the insurance company and was about to get back in the car on the driver’s side when the Ford sideswiped him, Polly Khoury said.

"He was a great friend who was the person to go to about guidance and finding where you needed to go to in life,” she said.

James Khoury graduated from Atholton High School in Columbia where he was part of the Junior ROTC. He graduated with an English degree from Hood College in Frederick and parlayed his love of literature into a research job.

“He researched everything to the nth degree,” Polly Khoury said. “If he found something he was interested in, he would research it online and then go into the library and read about it.”

His most recent topic of interest was Formula 1 racing. A constant in his life, though, was his faithful love for the Orioles.

“He was a forgiving Orioles fan,” his mother said.

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James Khoury was in between housing leases and was staying temporarily at his parents home in Columbia.

“We are so thankful for that time we had with him,” his mother said. “You never know what is going to happen to your child.”

Khoury said she plans to look into drinking and driving laws. “It’s a huge problem,” she said.

Morel-Cruz has been charged with driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, according to Baltimore County District Court records. Morel-Cruz had no lawyer listed in online court records and could not be reached for comment.

The Maryland State Police Crash Team is investigating the case.

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