Police seize car they believe was involved in fatal hit-and-run

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Anne Arundel County police said yesterday that they have seized a car that they think fatally struck a pedestrian while its driver was racing another motorist down a highway in Laurel on Sunday night.

Police said Richard McHale II of the 9300 block of Steeple Court, the car's owner, has not been arrested but that his badly damaged white Acura Integra was taken from his garage as evidence. The 1993 vehicle has a smashed windshield and other damage, they said.

Chelliah Johnson, 53, of Prince George's County was struck by a car traveling at a high speed as he crossed Route 198.

County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said he will not consider charges against McHale until police finish their investigation and a reconstruction of the accident.

Police said they did not arrest McHale because they do not consider him a flight risk and police typically defer to prosecutors in cases involving fatal traffic accidents, said spokesman Lt. Joseph Jordan.

Charges in the case could include reckless driving and auto manslaughter, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, the state's attorney said.

Police are seeking the driver of the second vehicle. "We'd like to talk to them and find out as much as we can about that night," Jordan said.

Authorities went to McHale's house after receiving a tip from a caller. He gave them permission to search his garage, but said his lawyer had advised him not to make a statement.

Witnesses to the accident said they saw two Integras - one white and the other dark-colored - racing down the highway about 9 p.m.

Johnson had crossed more than half of the six-lane highway when he was struck by at least one of the cars.

One of the Integras pulled over briefly after the accident, then drove off, witnesses said.

Police ask that anyone with information call 410-222-8610.

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