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Crash kills Hagerstown Motorcyclist

May 19, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

RINGGOLD - A Waynesboro, Pa., woman was being held Monday night in Washington County Detention Center after an accident earlier in the day claimed the life of a Hagerstown motorcyclist, according to Maryland State Police.

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William Francis Clarke, 42, of 108 N. Mont Valla Ave., was killed in the 7:01 a.m. accident after being thrown from his motorcycle at the intersection of Rinehart Road and Md. 418, police said.

He was flown to Washington County Hospital by Maryland State Police helicopter where he was later pronounced dead, police said.

Clarke was on his way to work at Zefer Operations Inc. in Fairfield, Pa., where he was the chief financial officer, when the accident occurred, said his wife, Meg Clarke.

The couple moved to Hagerstown after they were married three years ago. They are expecting their first child, she said.

"He was everything to me," Clarke said.

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Jennifer Ann Hight, 23, of 11570 B Airport Road, was charged with manslaughter by automobile, homicide by motor vehicle, and driving while intoxicated, police said.

Police did not release Hight's blood alcohol level. She was not injured in the accident, police said.

Hight was being held on $50,000 bond, according to a Washington County District Court commissioner.

Police said Hight was driving a 1993 Ford Mustang east on Md. 418 west of Rinehart Road when it struck the rear of Clarke's 1992 Suzuki MC motorcycle, throwing him off.

The Mustang then crossed the westbound lane of Md. 418 where it was struck on the passenger side by a 1994 Dodge Shadow, driven by Cindy M. Destefan, 34, of 11200 Baumgardner Lane, Waynesboro, police said.

Destefan was taken to Waynesboro Hospital where she was treated and released, police said.

The Mustang then traveled through the front yard of 23606 Ringgold Pike and struck the rear of a 1991 Chevrolet Corsica that was parked in the driveway, police said.

"I'm just glad it happened at 7 a.m. and not later," said Charee Worthington, who lives at the home where the Mustang came to rest.

Her voice shaking, Worthington said her daughter usually plays in the spot where the Mustang drove through. The car left three "doughnuts" in her yard before striking her car and coming to a stop, she said.

Worthington said she called 911 after she heard the noise from the accident. She said her car sustained an estimated $500 damage.

According to Washington County State's Attorney M. Kenneth Long Jr., Hight faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both if convicted on charges of manslaughter by automobile.

The maximum sentence if convicted on a charge of homicide by motor vehicle is 5 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both, he said.

Penalties from a conviction on a charge of driving while intoxicated depends on whether there have been prior offenses, Long said.

A native of Pittston, Pa., Clarke graduated from the University of Scranton, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees, Meg Clarke said.

She said her husband had been riding motorcycles for about 10 years and would get together with his friends to ride in the nice weather. She said he was safety conscious and always wore a helmet.

"He was the kindest, caring, soft-spoken, compassionate, and most loving husband that anyone could ever have," Meg Clarke said.

Police are seeking information from a retired New York state fireman who apparently witnessed the accident but left the scene prior to being interviewed, police said.

Anyone with information about the witness or the accident can call Maryland State Police at 1-301-739-2101.

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