Truck driver facing vehicular manslaughter charges for crash that killed JeannieBird bakery owner
By Carroll County Times staff
Dec 09, 2016 | 9:08 PM
A grand jury has indicted a Florida truck driver on one count of criminally negligent vehicular manslaughter in connection with a February crash that killed the owner of a popular Westminster bakery and cafe.
Wendy Morpas, 27, of Leesburg, Florida, also faces three traffic charges for allegedly failing to stop for a flashing red traffic signal in the Feb. 19 crash that killed Jeannie Vogel, 53, who, with her husband, co-owned JeannieBird Baking Company on Main Street in Westminster.
Criminally negligent vehicular manslaughter is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Police believe Jeannie Vogel, the owner of the popular JeannieBird Baking Company on Main Street in Westminster was killed in fiery traffic crash involving a tractor trailer on Route 27 early Friday morning.
Morpas was arrested by the Lake County (Florida) Sheriff's Office on Nov. 26 as a fugitive from justice and was extradited on Monday, according to Florida's electronic case search database.
The crash occurred shortly after 4 a.m. Feb. 19 when a tractor-trailer driven by Morpas, traveling west on Kate Wagner Road toward Md. 27, entered the intersection and struck Vogel's vehicle, which was traveling north on Md. 27 from her home on Nicodemus Road to her bakery in Westminster, causing both to catch fire. Vogel died at the scene; Morpas refused treatment at the scene.
A candle burned slowly, surrounded by bouquets of flowers and cards that filled the doorway of Westminster bakery JeannieBird Baking Company on Saturday in memory of the bakery's owner Jeannie Vogel, who was killed early Friday morning when her vehicle was struck by a tractor-trailer on Md. 27.
Morpas has been found guilty of multiple traffic infractions over the years in Lake County, Florida, including failure to obey a traffic control device, driving a vehicle in unsafe condition, unlawful speed, careless driving and, most recently in 2015, unknowingly operating a vehicle while his driver's license was suspended, according to electronic court records. The status of Morpas' driver's license at the time of the Feb. 19 crash is unclear.
Vogel and her husband, Bernie Vogel, opened the downtown Westminster bakery and cafe in November 2014. Prior to opening the brick-and-mortar shop at 42 W. Main St., in the building previously occupied by Heinz Bakery, Jeannie Vogel had started selling pastries at the Westminster Farmers Market in 2010, building her brand.
Vogel had a long history working as a pastry chef throughout Maryland at restaurants and shops, where she met her husband. Because her last name, Vogel, is the German word for "bird," her co-workers began calling her Jeannie Bird, and she decided to use that as the name of her business.
She also spent part of her career in the health industry working as a nurse at Carroll Hospital Center and for the Carroll County Health Department.
The February crash shut down Md. 27 for nearly 10 hours, as motorists were detoured around the crash scene while the Maryland State Police CRASH Team investigated, along with troopers from the Westminster barrack, while other agencies cleared "extensive" debris in the intersection.
The Maryland Department of Environment also responded to clean up fuel spilled as a result of the crash.