Hagerstown woman killed in head-on crash went to high school with other driver

Colleen Parks was retired teacher, school bus driver

Colleen Parks was retired teacher, school bus driver

May 06, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

CHEWSVILLE -- A 71-year-old Hagerstown woman who died in a head-on collision late Sunday went to high school with the man who was driving the other car involved in the accident.

The man, Kenneth Lee McDowell, 70, of Smithsburg, has been charged with negligent manslaughter and negligent homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated, according to police.

Colleen Joy Parks was pronounced dead at Washington County Hospital after the crash that occured shortly after 9 p.m. on Jefferson Boulevard (Md. 64) in the area of Twin Springs Drive, Maryland State Police said.

Parks and McDowell attended Hagerstown High School together, according to her husband, Harry Parks.

Colleen Parks, a cheerleader at the school, graduated in 1954, and McDowell graduated a year later, Harry Parks said.

Harry Parks said he and McDowell played golf together.

Colleen and Harry Parks were married in 1956 and have three daughters, Kelly Russo, Kerry Eckenrode and Kassy LaGrutta, and five grandchildren.


Harry Parks described his wife as quiet and easy to get along with.

"She had a lot of friends," he said.

Colleen Parks retired from the Washington County Board of Education, where she used to drive a bus and teach driver's education, her husband said.

Colleen Parks was driving home after visiting a daughter in Smithsburg when the accident occurred, her husband said.

Harry Parks said he was getting ready for bed when the call came from the hospital emergency room. He wasn't aware of how serious his wife's injuries were until he arrived at the hospital, he said.

Police said McDowell was driving east on Md. 64 when his 2001 Cadillac DeVille crossed the center line and struck a 2003 Hyundai Accent driven by Parks.

Parks was trapped in her car when officers arrived, Washington County District Court documents show.

There were no passengers in either vehicle, police said.

McDowell refused medical treatment at the accident scene, police said. He was found to have been drinking before the collision and had a blood-alcohol content higher than the legal limit, police alleged.

After consultation with the Washington County State's Attorney's Office, McDowell was charged with negligent manslaughter and negligent homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated, as well as related DUI and traffic offenses.

He was being held Monday at the Washington County Detention Center on $100,000 bond.

McDowell told police he had three beers and four mixed drinks, starting at about 7 p.m. Sunday, according to allegations contained in court documents.

Fire and rescue personnel from the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Department and Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services responded to the incident.

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