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City woman, 23, dies in I-70 accident

April 29, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown woman is dead after a head-on collision late Thursday in the eastbound lane of Interstate 70, and a second motorist had life-threatening injuries after the accident near Exit 35, according to police.

Autumn Cheree Mendoza, 23, of Hagerstown, was killed in the accident that occurred at about 11:03 p.m., Maryland State Police said in a news release.

The driver of the second vehicle, Sharon Dawn Buck, 28, of Hedgesville, W.Va., was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, police said.

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Police said it was unclear what caused the accident, but Buck was traveling west on I-70 just west of Md. 66 when her 1995 Volvo station wagon crossed a 10-foot-high grass median and struck Mendoza's 2002 Ford Focus.

Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Doug Bittinger said shortly after the accident that the Ford's driver, later identified as Mendoza, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mendoza's 1-year-old son also was injured. Police said he received non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to Washington County Hospital for treatment. No further information about the boy was available this morning.

Bittinger said the Volvo's driver, later identified as Buck, had life-threatening injuries, including "crushing injuries to the lower extremities."

State Police Sgt. T.J. McKenrick said Buck was being flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

"She definitely wasn't going to Washington County (Hospital)," McKenrick said.

Buck's condition was not available this morning.

Both vehicles sustained extensive front-end damage. Metal and glass was strewn across the highway.

Another vehicle, a Kia Optima, swerved to avoid the wreck and crashed into the median, Bittinger said.

Both women inside the Kia were Hagerstown-area residents. They were taken to Washington County Hospital for treatment of injuries, police said.

Tractor-trailers and cars were backed up for miles in the eastbound lane as emergency responders attended to victims and investigators assessed the wreckage.

Police ask anyone who might have witnessed the accident to call investigators at 301-739-2101.

Staff Writer Gregory T. Simmons contributed to this story.

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