Teen killed on scooter remembered as 'good girl'

August 27, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

Starting the school year as a senior at South Hagerstown High School on Wednesday meant something to April Lynn Shumaker: The 17-year-old was back on track, she knew what she wanted to do with her life and felt one step closer to graduation, her aunt, Mary Ann Socks, said.

Shumaker died Wednesday night when a pickup truck crashed into the back of a motor scooter on which she was riding, Maryland State Police said.

The driver of the pickup truck, Charles Edward Beard Jr., 32, was charged with vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving.

Beard's Dodge Ram crashed into the back of the scooter driven by Bruce Luray Gray, as it was traveling east in the travel lane of Md. 144 near Delwood Avenue west of Hagerstown at about 11:18 p.m., state police said in a written release.


Gray, 24, of Hagerstown, was treated at Washington County Hospital and released, police said.

"She was really excited the first day of school. She said it was her last first day of school before she graduated," said Socks, who shared her 417 W. Washington St. home with Shumaker.

Shumaker was enrolled at South High as a freshman, but she was back and forth between the high school and Evening High School up until this year when she was fully enrolled at South High, said Boyd Michael, executive director of secondary education for Washington County Public Schools.

Budd Moore, guidance counselor at both schools, said, "April was a real special kid. She's overcome a lot of adversity and problems to get where she was."

"She's never lost sight of her goal and that was to get back to South High," Moore said. "She was about to realize that. She was always battling things in her life that could derail that at any time."

Shumaker was enrolled in Web design and computer classes at South High, planned to get a college degree in the field and then start her own business, Socks said.

"She said she'd get me a sit-down job," Socks said, her eyes filling with tears.

Later, after looking at pictures of her niece, Socks said, "She's a good girl. That's my girl, she's my sidekick."

Socks said Shumaker was the oldest of eight children, and had an older sister who had a different mother.

Socks was planning to take Shumaker to see singer Usher perform next month. She said that Shumaker loved motorcycles and scooters.

Socks and her brother, Ralph Socks Jr., Shumaker's uncle, planned to take part in a family trip to Ocean City next month. The family planned to celebrate Shumaker's 18th birthday, which would have been on Sept. 17. She had never been to the ocean, he said.

Ralph Socks said a story about the accident that he read in The Daily Mail on Thursday used the word "special" in a headline to describe Shumaker.

He said the family always called Shumaker "spaecial," a funny way of saying special, and that the headline "hit the nail on the head."

April's mother, Matti Socks, 36, said that the family also called the girl "Shuy," after her father, who died about four years ago.

Mary Ann Socks said that her niece was still trying to get over the loss of her father.

Ralph Socks described Shumaker as "that kind of caring individual" who "just loved people."

Matti Socks said her daughter was "outgoing, lovable and everything."

South High Principal Richard Akers said a crisis intervention team would be at the school to help students deal with Shumaker's death.

Beard, whose mailing address is 106 S. Mont Valla Ave. in Hagerstown, was arraigned Thursday morning on charges of negligent manslaughter by automobile, negligent automobile homicide by driving under the influence, negligent automobile homicide by driving while impaired, failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving injury or death and separate drunken driving charges.

Washington County District Court Commissioner Craig Clevenger told Beard that with the combined charges he could face up to 25 years in prison. He set bond for Beard at $200,000.

When speaking with Clevenger, Beard occasionally rubbed his lips or ran his hands over his face. Beard, who was wearing a white T-shirt with Sauza Tequila written on the front, looked down when Clevenger read the charges against him.

Police said witnesses told officers they saw Beard driving at a "high rate of speed prior to the collision." Police said Beard did not stop at the scene of the accident, but continued toward Hagerstown, dragging the scooter underneath the pickup.

The pickup turned onto South Mont Valla Avenue and struck two parked vehicles, causing minor damage to the vehicles and dislodging the scooter from beneath the truck, police said.

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