Family and friends of Susannah Badders, Ray Badders, and Jason Simpkins stood outside of the Takoma Park Police Department with signs demanding answers about a car crash last year that claimed those three lives.
Family and friends of Ray and Susannah Badders, and Jason Simpkins stood outside of the Takoma Park Police Department with signs demanding answers about a car crash last year that claimed those three lives.
Ray Badders, his daughter, Susannah, and Simpkins, Susannah's boyfriend, were stopped in traffic when former Takoma Park Police Officer Travis Ala plowed into the back of their car, flipping his own car and killing Ray Badders. Susannah Badders and Simpkins, alumni of Manchester Valley High School, both died a day later at Shock Trauma at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
A grand jury decided to not indict Ala after the crash, though he was issued traffic citations, including for reckless driving, negligent driving, failing to control speed to avoid a collision, and driver changing lanes when unsafe, according to Capital Gazette reporting. At the time of the crash, he was also being investigated for a previous road rage incident.
Ala resigned from the Takoma Park Police Department Friday.
"The City of Takoma Park and the Takoma Park Police Department extend their deep sympathies to the families of Susannah and Ray Badders and Jason Simpkins as they remember their loved ones a little over a year after their deaths," the Takoma Park Police Department said Saturday in a news release.
Katherine Badders, Susannah's mother, was joined by her other daughter, her grandchildren and friends of Susannah in demanding answers to their questions about the crash. The group came together for a rally Saturday at 1 p.m.
"I have no answers. I have questions," Katherine Badders said. "I have questions for the authorities, his bosses. I have questions for Travis Ala, the officer. What were you doing, and is this investigation being handled the way it should be handled? Would the investigation be going the same way if I, for example, had slammed into three police officers, killing all three … ?"
The signs they carried asked the questions they are asking.
"Where's the justice for three deaths?" read one.
"You enforce the law. Why can't you uphold it?" read another.
Two more people have died following a three-vehicle crash Saturday on Route 50 in Annapolis, the Maryland State Police confirmed Sunday night. Susannah Badders, 19, of Manchester in Carrol County and Jason Simpkins, 19, of Ellicott City in Howard County were pronounced dead Sunday at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
Woodley said she knew Badders since middle school and came to get the word out that Ala's case was not handled properly.
"We just want everybody to understand that what happened is ridiculous and we're outraged," Woodley said. "We just want justice for our friends and family."
The group started in a park across the street from the Takoma Park Community Center, where the Police Department is housed. Carolyn Owens, who is Ray's daughter and Susannah's older sister, sang two songs while the group held their signs.
After she finished, Katherine Badders and Woodley shared some thoughts about their loved ones and their experiences after losing them.
"As you can imagine, our loss is unspeakable and added to this is the feeling that our three deaths have not been treated with the respect they deserve. Justice must be seen to be done," Badders said to the group.
Ray and Susannah Badders, and Simpkins were remembered as loving members of their family. Ray Badders was a member of the American Legion, a veteran and a man who loved his children, Katherine Badders said.
Susannah Badders was planning to change her major and had told her mother they would talk about it when she got home. Katherine Badders had her dinner in the oven, she said.
"She was a champion track star, a ballet dancer, volleyball player. In her last year of high school, she was a Maryland state champion for 4-by-1. I was so proud of her," Katherine Badders said. "Triple jump champ. She's the kind of daughter you're just proud of."
After one more song by Owens, the group then moved to the community center. They lined up on the sidewalk with their signs, grabbing the attention of some passersby.
Aside from charges, Katherine Badders said she is looking to change driving laws. To Badders, the law needs to be changed so that people — law enforcement or not — are responsible for driving based on the other vehicles also on the road, she said.