Teen cousins killed when car hits tree Girls were vacationing together in Sykesville; driver injured in crash


Two teen-age cousins sharing a week of summer vacation were killed late Thursday when the car in which they were riding went out of control on a residential street in Eldersburg and slammed into a tree.

Jessica Erin Harley, 16, of the 1700 block of Maryland Ave. in Shady Side in Anne Arundel County, and Jill Marie Peay, 15, of the 7400 block of Norris Ave. in Sykesville in Carroll County, were pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver, William Joel Kassakatis, 18, of the 7100 block of Ridge Road in Marriottsville, was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he was in fair and stable condition yesterday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

An investigation of the crash, which occurred at 11: 40 p.m. in the 6600 block of Monroe Ave., is continuing. State police reports will be reviewed by prosecutors from the state's attorney's office to determine whether charges will be filed, police said.

According to investigators, the 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier was traveling south on Monroe Avenue when it failed to slow for a curve, went out of control, and veered off the road into a tree. The passenger side took the brunt of the impact.

Peay, who was riding in the car's rear seat, was not wearing a seat belt, Lt. Leonard Armstrong, commander of the Westminster state police barracks, said.

Summer vacation

Alcohol and drug tests are required in fatal accidents, Armstrong said. He said it was premature to say if either was a factor.

Family members said yesterday that the cousins were spending a week together in Sykesville during their summer vacation.

Jessica, they said, was to enter 11th grade at Anne Arundel County's Southern High School in Harwood in the fall. She was an honor student and a member of the school's choral group. The daughter of Theresa L. Harley of Ocean City and Richard C. Harley of Virginia, she is also survived by a brother, Bryan P. Harley.

Jill had completed 10th grade at Liberty High School in Eldersburg, where she played basketball and lacrosse.

She is survived by her parents, James D. and Cynthia Cush Peay, and a brother, Christopher Peay.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated for Jill at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Community, 915 Liberty Road, Eldersburg.

Funeral arrangements for Jessica were incomplete, a family member said.

High toll in Carroll

The girls' deaths brought the number of traffic fatalities in Carroll County this year to 17, one less than in all of last year. Nine of the fatalities have occurred since May 9.

"Speed and failing to pay attention appear to be the main factors in the high number of fatalities this year," Armstrong said. "So far, we have had only one alcohol-related death, but several investigations are still pending.

"People seem to be heeding our message about not drinking and driving, but not everyone is hearing the warnings about excessive speed and aggressive driving," he said.

"From our preliminary investigation, speed and driver error appear to be the cause in this [latest] double fatality," Armstrong said.

Pub Date: 6/27/98

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad