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22-year-old New Windsor man dies during illegal street racing event, police say

Two men fell off the back of a truck during what police called an illegal street race in Union Bridge on Friday, and one of them, a New Windsor resident, died Sunday.

Michael Fritz, 22, was taken off life support and died, according to a Monday news release from Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. He had been taken to University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore along with a second victim, John Wittington Jr., 19. As of Monday, Wittington’s condition was improving, according to the news release.

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Taylor Clarke, spokesperson for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, was waiting to confirm Wittington’s residence. She did not have an update on his condition Tuesday.

The person driving the truck that Wittington and Fritz fell off of is a Taneytown resident, according to Clarke. She said charges are pending against Noah Wetzel, 19, and charges are being considered for the crowd of about 200 people who attended the race.

A gathering of that size was a violation of Gov. Larry Hogan’s orders to limit gatherings to 10 people during the coronavirus pandemic, Clarke said.

Frederick County Sheriff’s Office responded at about 10:15 p.m. to the area of Clemsonville and Fountain School roads for a report of a large group of people racing vehicles, the release states. While police were on the way, a second call came in for two injured people.

A 1984 Ford F-250 pickup truck traveling south in the 10800 block of Clemsonville Road had at least three people sitting on its flatbed when it went off the road, according to the release. With tires spinning, the truck came back onto the road, then Wittington and Fritz fell out of the back, the release states.

Police learned that the “Pop-Up Street Race Event” was organized and spread through social media, according to the release. About 50 cars and trucks participated, Clarke wrote in an email.

She wrote that street racing has been a common problem in that area for many years.

Collision reconstructionists from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit conducted the investigation, which is ongoing. Although people at the event appeared to be intoxicated, there was no indication that Wetzel was impaired during the incident, the release states.

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The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information, including videos of the incident, to contact Det. Rector at 301-600-6490. Tips can also be left anonymously by calling 301-600-4131.

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