Phoenix dentist faces charges in hit-and-run case Teen-ager injured on Paper Mill Road was former patient


A longtime Phoenix dentist was charged yesterday with a hit-and-run accident in which a teen-ager -- who turned out to be one of his former patients -- was pinned to a tree by a Mercedes-Benz.

Michael James Bennett, 50, of the 14000 block of Jarrettsville Pike in Phoenix, is charged with failure to remain at an accident scene and failure to render aid in the July 24 accident, Baltimore County police said.

Dr. Bennett was charged in a summons. A trial date hasn't been set.

The victim, Dan Lally, 15, was helping a stranded motorist on Paper Mill Road when the car came around a curve and hit him shortly after 10 p.m.

The Lally youth had been a patient of Dr. Bennett's when he was 3 or 4, the youth said last night.

"I'm very mad," Dan Lally said after hearing who was charged. "I figured that since the car was a Mercedes that it was somebody with money who thought they could get away with it."

Detectives identified Dr. Bennett's car, a Burgundy 1982 Mercedes, as the suspect vehicle yesterday after they visited a Towson auto dealership, where the car was left for repairs the day after the accident.

"It's very disappointing. He's been the community dentist for years," said Robert Lally, Dan's father. "Everyone has been thinking who could have done this, and it turns out to be a doctor."

Dan Lally, of the 14000 block of Quinn Lane in Baldwin, was on his way home from Hunt Valley Mall with a friend when they saw a car that had run off the road and into a tree on Paper Mill Road near Green Branch Drive in Phoenix.

Young Lally, a junior at Loyola High School in Towson, said he was at the driver-side door of the car when the Mercedes came around the curve and hit him. His left leg received crush-type injuries and will be in a cast for at least six to eight weeks. It is not known whether he will have permanent complications.

Police found pieces of the hit-and-run car at the accident scene. Witnesses said the vehicle appeared to have extensive damage to the right front fender and hood, and a broken right headlight.

Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a county police spokesman, said detectives contacted area auto dealerships and repair shops in an attempt to locate the hit-and-run vehicle.

At 3 p.m. yesterday, detectives went to Towson Valley Motors and found a Mercedes that had damage similar to the hit-and-run vehicle, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

"The pieces of the car found at the scene matched the body of the car in the shop," he said.

Dr. Bennett, who has run his dental practice out of the basement of his home for over 20 years, said last night he would save his comments for court.

Sergeant Doarnberger said Dr. Bennett had brought the car in on Saturday, the day after the accident.

Phoenix, a tiny village north of Cockeysville, is a suburban community of large wooded homesites. It has been described as a turn-of-the-century enclave beside Gunpowder Falls.

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