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Crash victims' honesty touted

October 25, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Friends and relatives on Thursday recalled a Hagerstown couple who died in a head-on collision Wednesday night as being honest and kind.

Gerald Eugene Dietrich, 59, and Mary Ellen Dietrich, 61, of the 2000 block of Academy Lane in Hagerstown, were killed in an 8:30 p.m. accident in the 20200 block of Mt. Aetna Road near the entrance to Black Rock Golf Course, the Washington County Sheriff's Department said.

The police investigation showed a 2001 BMW 330 driven by Matthew David Meyer, 22, of the 11000 block of Robinwood Drive, collided with a 1984 Ford Ranger truck driven by Gerald Dietrich, deputies said.

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Mary Dietrich was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Gerald Dietrich was taken by ambulance to Washington County Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, police said.

Meyer was flown by Maryland State Police to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in critical condition Thursday night, a hospital spokeswoman said.

An investigation into the accident is continuing, deputies said.

The Dietrichs were on the way from their home to Hagerstown Billiards & Cafe on Dual Highway when the accident occurred, Dale Conley, a former Hagerstown police officer who is friends with the family, said Thursday morning.

In recent months, Gerald Dietrich and Conley have had a standing date to play pool every Wednesday night, Conley said. Sometimes Dietrich's wife came along.

They were supposed to meet at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. When Dietrich did not show up, Conley figured Dietrich's elderly father must have needed his help.

He learned Thursday morning that the Dietrichs were dead.

"(Gerald) was an honest person, a good person. He wouldn't beat nobody out of a dime," Conley said.

Conley described Mary Dietrich as "a totally nice person. And as honest as one can be."

The two men became acquainted when Conley used to issue parking tickets to Dietrich near a bar Dietrich owned called the Hat Tavern in the 200 block of South Potomac Street. Dietrich would pay the tickets without complaint, Conley said.

Dietrich later ran a bar at the Midtown Motel, then owned and operated the Corvette Lounge near The Maryland Theatre, Conley said. Mary Dietrich worked with her husband at the bar.

Within the last 10 years, Dietrich sold the bar, moved to his current address and became more reclusive, Conley said.

Gerald Dietrich had done some work in recent years as a day trader, Conley said.

After leaving the bar business, he tried to live a healthier lifestyle with his wife's encouragement, Conley said.

"He was devoted to family and Mary," said Dietrich's sister, Shirley Rogers of Smithsburg.

Rogers said the Dietrichs helped her take care of their father, Jessie.

Rogers said she takes care of their father's paperwork while Gerald Dietrich would do yard work at his house and Mary Dietrich would do his laundry and other tasks.

Staff writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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