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Fiery bus accident kills W.Va. driver

March 18, 2002|BY KIM YAKOWSKI and JULIE E. GREENE

A 54-year-old Martinsburg, W.Va., man died Friday morning after the 1990 Ford bus he was driving veered off Interstate 70 into a wooded area and burst into flames, Maryland State Police said.

Witnesses said Konstantinos Merovoglou, of 77 Fenwick Drive, appeared to have fallen asleep as he drove east on I-70 near Beaver Creek Road at 10:20 a.m., 1st Sgt. Rick Narron said.

As the bus drifted to the right shoulder, the "vehicle hit a boulder and then catapulted over trees and caught on fire," Narron said.

There were no passengers.

As the 20-seat bus continued up the embankment it hit several trees before catching on fire, said Joe Kroboth, director of Washington County Emergency Services.

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When Funkstown firefighters arrived the bus was engulfed in flames and they were unable to get Merovoglou out, said Kroboth.

Kroboth said he didn't think Merovoglou was conscious while the bus burned.

It wasn't known whether vehicle or medical problems may have caused him to veer off the road.

Merovoglou was on his way to get the bus repaired when the accident occurred, said Salim Haddad, a co-worker of Merovoglou's at Awards Limousine Service in Bethesda, Md. Haddad did not know what was wrong with the bus.

"Everybody's sad over here," Haddad said.

The service has about 16 employees.

Merovoglou worked at the limousine service for about three years.

Originally from Greece, Merovoglou liked to talk about world events, Haddad said. He was survived by a wife, two daughters and a son, Haddad said.

"He was a family man," Haddad said.

Merovoglou had a good sense of humor and was a "good man," he said.

"He has a heart of gold. Anything you ask from him, he'll give you the shirt off his back," Haddad said.

Additional firefighters from the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway aided Funkstown firefighters in putting out the blaze.

The vehicle rested on the right shoulder embankment for more than an hour as firefighters waited for the medical examiner to arrive.

The heat from the flames incinerated the bus's roof and the windows were knocked out. The blackened vehicle rested on a 10-foot embankment surrounded by broken trees and debris.

Traffic was reduced to one lane on eastbound I-70 for about a mile leading to the accident scene.

Community Rescue Service also responded.

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