A light rail train operator has been charged in the death of a 17-year-old St. Frances Academy football standout who was killed in a February crash in Linthicum.
Lamar Patterson died Feb. 2, 2022, when his car was struck by a light rail train on his way to school. Tavon Smith has been charged with negligent manslaughter, criminal negligence and reckless endangerment, according to court records.
Smith, a Cockeysville resident, is scheduled for a hearing Feb. 13. He does not have an attorney listed in court records.
Patterson, a native of Kissimmee, Florida, who transferred to St. Frances in 2019, was driving a 2003 Honda Accord eastbound on Maple Road around 9 a.m. when the collision occurred, police said.
The Maryland Transit Administration train struck the passenger side of Patterson’s car. Patterson was trapped for about 15 minutes before being extricated by firefighters. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Police said there were no passengers on the light rail train other than the conductor, who was uninjured.
Breaking News Alerts
At the time, police said they were investigating a failure to obey traffic control devices by Patterson, who didn’t stop at the intersection as the gates were lowering. After reviewing video footage of the crash, investigators said the train had “entered the intersection while the roadway gates were in the process of lowering.”
Witnesses told police the train’s horn sounded before approaching the roadway. There were overhead alternate flashing red lights in both directions of Maple Road and flashing train signals facing each direction that were visible, police said.
“Although the overhead alternating warning lights were functioning properly at the time of the crash, the roadway was not completely blocked by the gates when the crash occurred,” police said at the time.
Patterson was a junior wide receiver and cornerback described as a “shining star.” In mid-February, he was honored at a vigil in Northeast Baltimore attended by more than 150 people.
The fatal crash reignited long-running debates about safety around light rail crossings that date back to their construction in the early 1990s.
The Linthicum light rail crossing near the intersection of Maple Road West and Camp Meade Road where Patterson died had been deemed a “high priority” target for replacement for nearly 20 years, according to an Anne Arundel land-use document.
In the wake of the football player’s death, residents pointed to the Anne Arundel County Small Area Plan published in 2003 that recommended the crossing be replaced so cars and trains wouldn’t cross paths.