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Fiery crash stops traffic on interstate

April 05, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - A fiery two-car accident near Clear Spring on Sunday morning sent three people to the hospital and halted westbound traffic on Interstate 70 for about an hour.

Although the cars were charred beyond recognition, four motorists escaped without life-threatening injuries, Maryland State Police said.

Maryland State Police said officers responded to reports at 8:30 a.m. of a crash on I-70 west of Cedar Ridge Road. Police dispatcher Kristen Wolf said officers were told in initial reports that two cars were on fire and people may be trapped inside.

The motorists freed themselves from the mangled vehicles before fire spread through both, said Deputy Chief Brian Altman of the Clear Spring Fire Department.

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"Both vehicles were fully engulfed when we got here," Altman said. "Everybody was out when we arrived."

Police said a 1996 Volkswagen Golf driven by Miguel A. Miranda, 20, of 3827 Spruell Drive in Kensington, Md., and a 1994 Chevrolet Blazer driven by David E. Penn, 62, of Galion, Ohio, collided and spun off the right side of the road.

The crash caused the Blazer, which overturned onto the driver's side, and the Golf to ignite.

Police said Miranda, who was charged with negligent driving in connection with the incident, was driving at a high speed and struck the rear of the Blazer.

Miranda and Penn, as well as Candy J. Penn, 35, also of Galion, were taken to Washington County Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, police said. Another passenger in the Blazer, Sherri J. Penn, 34, of Galion, was not treated following the crash, police said.

A Washington County Hospital spokeswoman said conditions were not available for Miranda and the Penns on Sunday.

At the accident scene, melted seats and dashboards combined with fire hose water to create a sludgy mix on the floors of the vehicles. Nearly all of the rubber on the tires was melted and only a few splotches of red paint were left to show the color of the burned vehicles.

Three men standing at the fence line of an adjacent property about 100 yards away said they gathered after hearing a commotion and seeing the traffic backed up.

"We heard the sirens. That's the reason we came running," said Frank Barr.

Barr and two other men said they didn't see or hear the crash.

Police shut down both westbound lanes near the crash for about one hour while the victims were treated and the vehicles were removed. At about 9:30 a.m., just before police opened the road again, traffic had stalled for more than five miles.

Anyone who witnessed the collision can contact the police department at 301-739-2101.

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