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Founder of Arundel breaking-news site killed in car accident

A 32-year-old Anne Arundel County man who started a popular local breaking-news service was killed in a two-vehicle car crash in Pasadena early Saturday morning, police said.

Brian David McDevitt of Pasadena was pronounced dead at the scene. Two teenagers sustained minor injuries. John McAndrew, a police spokesman, said there is evidence that McDevitt was speeding at the time of the crash.

McDevitt was a custodian at Severna Park High School, where he had worked for about seven years, according to Anne Arundel Schools spokesman Bob Mosier. The school will inform students when classes resume next week and counseling services will be available, said Mosier.

McDevitt founded a Facebook page last year called "Anne Arundel County Breaking News and Events," which had attracted legions of followers with updates on car crashes, traffic jams and links to community news. As of Saturday, nearly 29,000 users "liked" the page.

In a news release Saturday morning, police said they responded to the scene of the crash at Fort Smallwood Road near Devere Drive at about 12:46 a.m. Saturday. McDevitt, who was driving a 2003 Acura, was traveling north on Fort Smallwood Road when his car went out of control and crossed the double yellow lines.

The car turned counter-clockwise and struck a 1997 BMW driving southbound. McDevitt's car continued for several hundred feet, hit a mailbox and overturned in a ditch. McDevitt was thrown out and found lying near his car.

Brandon Patrick O'Malley, 18, of Pasadena, was driving the BMW. O'Malley and his passenger, Spencer Anthony Blake, 19, sustained minor injuries and were transported by ambulance to Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

Dave Abrams, a spokesman for County Executive John R. Leopold, said Saturday that he got to know McDevitt through the page and was impressed with his ability to connect with his audience.

"It's really become a staple in the community; it's really amazing," said Abrams. "I've seen people comment on there that they go there every day before they leave for work – it's a one-stop shop for weather and traffic reports."

Abrams added, "The Internet can be an impersonal thing. Somehow, everybody felt like they knew these guys personally. … I wish I got to meet him in person."

The page's co-founder, John Williams, informed followers of McDevitt's death Saturday morning — before the police announced it – with a "heavy heart and teary eye." The pair had also launched a website by the same name last Friday.

Peggy Beall, a Glen Burnie resident, wrote, "Didn't know him but I loved reading his site. Kept us all informed. Prayers go out to his family. He did the community a world of good."

Williams, who updates the page along with a team of about eight others, said McDevitt began the page at the urging of a friend and watched its success with astonishment.

"We used to joke, 'Most businesses build a Facebook page. Our Facebook page built a business,'" said Williams, who met McDevitt while they were both students at Northeast High School. "Brian's quote was, 'Sometimes the news isn't fast enough.' We thought we could do it better and faster."

Williams said McDevitt was a "big kid" and lived with his parents — Dave and Joann McDevitt — preferring that to the responsibility of living on his own. He also has an older sister, Christie McDevitt. The family did not respond to a message seeking comment.

"He was always the class clown," said Williams. "He was the biggest 16-year-old in a 32-year-old's body you would ever meet."

Williams said McDevitt loved cars and frequently attended car shows. The Acura he died in was "his baby," said Williams. The car was "lowered, had nice rims, an awesome stereo," he said.

"Brian was an awesome guy," said Williams. "He really did love this place – Anne Arundel County. The county lost a great guy.

Williams said he's unsure whether the site will continue. "That will be up to his mom," he said, adding: "This was his dream. I'm pretty sure it will continue. I don't want Brian to feel like I let him down."

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