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Multiple injuries reported in I-70 crashes

December 08, 2009

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Maryland State Police were investigating Tuesday whether a three-car collision on Interstate 70 during the morning commute caused a six-car pileup with injuries less than a mile away.

Both accidents involved vehicles driven by on-duty police officers, according to Maryland State Police Cpl. James Grinnan.

The first collision, described by Grinnan and other state police officers as a "property damage accident," occurred at 6:59 a.m. on eastbound I-70 just east of mile-marker 37 near the Frederick County line and involved an unmarked Maryland State Police cruiser, a 2008 Ford Escape and a 2007 Jeep Liberty.

No one involved in that accident was injured, Grinnan said.

He identified the trooper involved as Kevin Wolters of the Frederick barracks. The other drivers were identified as Charles Avery of Martinsburg, W.Va., and Bonnie Hebb of Williamsport.

The second wreck occurred several minutes later, less than a mile west of the first accident.

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Police originally thought the second accident involved five cars, but the driver of a sixth car who left the scene contacted authorities to report they also were part of the wreck.

The second accident involved a Frederick County Sheriff's Department cruiser driven by Deputy Dwayne Freeman, Grinnan said. Freeman, a school resource officer in Frederick County, formerly was a police officer in Washington County, according to Cpl. Jennifer Bailey of the Frederick County Sheriff's Department.

The drivers of the other vehicles were identified as Kenneth Bingaman of Chambersburg, Pa., and Shirley Geisler, James Barnes, Julia Hollis and Lyndsey Ferguson, all of Hagerstown, Grinnan said.

Grinnan said he believed Freeman and Wolters were reporting for their shifts and not responding to calls when the accidents occurred.

One of the vehicles involved in the second crash was a pickup truck with the words "Flagger Force" on it. A Mazda 3 and a Toyota Corolla also appeared to have been involved, according to a photographer at the scene.

None of the injuries from the second accident was life-threatening, Grinnan said.

Freeman, Hollis, Ferguson and Barnes were treated at Washington County Hospital, according to hospital spokeswoman Nicole Jovel.

Ferguson, Hollis and Freeman were listed as "registered in the emergency room," Jovel said, which means they were either undergoing further testing or released following treatment.

Barnes' condition was listed as "fair" Tuesday afternoon, Jovel said.

Grinnan said he didn't know whether the second crash was a result of blocked traffic caused by the first accident, but he said both involved rear-end collisions that seemed to occur in a similar fashion.

"I guess traffic came to a quick stop after the first one," Grinnan said.

The cause of both accidents was under investigation, and Grinnan said it wasn't yet known whether speed was a factor in either collision.

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