Fiery crash kills man, injures 4 in Howard

The driver of a pickup truck died in a fiery crash yesterday on Interstate 70 in western Howard County when his vehicle crossed the median and hit a second pickup pulling a camper and carrying a family of four, all of whom survived.

The accident about 11 a.m. badly snarled holiday traffic on westbound I-70, with cars backed up for several miles for more than three hours.


State police said George Henry Baylor of Baltimore was driving a blue 1988 Dodge Dakota pickup truck east on I-70 when he veered across the grassy median, which is not bordered by guardrails on that stretch of the road, and crashed into a westbound Ford pickup that was pulling a large camper trailer.

Police were investigating last night why Baylor lost control of his truck.


The collision, just west of the Howard County fairgrounds and just east of an I-70 weigh station, set off a huge fire, police and witnesses said. The family of four riding in the Ford managed to escape, police said, but Baylor, who survived the collision, was trapped in his cab and died in the fire.

Troopers and passers-by tried to pull him free, state police said. "He was still alive when the fire consumed him," said Cpl. Frank Quisay.

The driver of the Ford, Gary Williamson of Perryville, and his wife were flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, and the two children were taken to Howard County General Hospital. The names of the wife and children were not available last night. None of the injuries was life-threatening, Quisay said.

The crash and fire left behind a gruesome scene. The Dodge was nearly severed in half and barely recognizable, with a white sheet draped over its crumpled driver-side door. The Ford was charred to a dark gray and the front half of the camper was burned out entirely, leaving only a narrow steel frame.

About noon, police closed the westbound interstate at Exit 80 and began diverting traffic onto Routes 32 and 144. It took more than 30 minutes for the traffic backed up west of that point to wend its way around the crash scene via the weigh station.

Police reopened the interstate before 1 p.m., but had not yet cleared the wreckage, so traffic again backed up for miles.