Hagerstown man killed, 6 taken to hospital after I-70 crash

Victim supported construction of Veterans Memorial Wall

February 28, 2011|By DAN DEARTH and DAVE MCMILLION | and
  • A pickup truck, at left, collided with a bus on eastbound Interstate 70 on Monday morning. An occupant of the pickup truck was killed.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

BIG POOL — A former head of the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County who was known for his keen interest in issues facing veterans was killed Monday morning when the pickup truck he was driving crossed the median on Interstate 70 near the Big Pool exit and slammed into a bus, according to police.

Ray S. Linebaugh, 69, of Hagerstown who pushed for construction of a Veterans Memorial Wall at Martin L. “Marty” Snook Memorial Park in Halfway, was pronounced dead at the scene, Maryland State Police said in a news release.

Authorities had not determined Monday why the pickup Linebaugh was driving crossed from the westbound lanes of I-70 over the median and struck the bus from the Megabus transportation company as it was parked on the eastbound shoulder near the Big Pool exit just before 10 a.m. The bus was disabled, officials said.

“It’s a bad coincidence the bus was there,” Lt. Thomas Woodward said.

State police said in a news release Monday night that a medical emergency had not been ruled out as a cause of the crash.

Linebaugh’s body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy, the release said.

Woodward said a mother and her two children were taken to the hospital after their vehicle crashed trying to avoid the accident.

During a press conference after the accident, Woodward said 18 people were aboard the bus, which was traveling from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Three of those passengers were taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries, he said.

The remaining 15 bus passengers were taken to the American Red Cross in Hagerstown to await another bus, Woodward said.

A passenger on the bus, Joan Simons, said she and her husband, Albert Nunez, were traveling home to the Washington, D.C., area after visiting their son in Pittsburgh. She said the bus driver pulled over on the side of I-70 because the bus was having transmission problems.

She said the bus driver had borrowed her phone to call for another bus when a truck traveled from the westbound lanes across the median and toward the front of the bus.

“We just looked up and this man was flying at me,” said Simons, who was sitting in the front right seat of the bus. “We thought, ‘Oh, he’s going to hit us.’ We couldn’t do anything.”

Simons said several people were taken away by ambulance, and that the bus driver was complaining of a shoulder injury.

“I looked out the window and said, ‘I can’t believe this,’ and — bam! — the pickup truck was right in our lap,” Nunez said. “He was literally airborne. He came over the median doing 60 to 70 mph.”

Nunez said the bus’ door was jammed shut and the driver helped most of the passengers out through emergency exits at the rear of the vehicle.

Another bus passenger, Pavel Blokhin, 25, said he was heading to Washington, D.C., before going to New York to catch a flight home to Russia.

Blokhin said the person who seemed to have suffered the most serious injuries on the bus was a Chinese student, who he said had lost teeth and was having a hard time talking.


Both lanes and both shoulders of eastbound I-70 were closed in the area of the wreck until about 1:15 p.m.

Linebaugh joined the Air Force and served in Vietnam as part of the 1st Air Commando Squadron. While there, he received the Bronze Star for valor in combat after his crew was flown into enemy territory to the spot where an American fighter plane loaded with weapons had crashed under fire.

Because of his own experiences in the military, Linebaugh became interested in whatever could be done for veterans, Wayne Taylor, vice president of the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County, said Monday night.

Linebaugh worked with Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Allegany/Washington, on legislation to allow veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam who left school to enlist to receive their diplomas.

Linebaugh was such a veteran, and he received his high school diploma in a ceremony before the Washington County Board of Education in 2007.

After he led the effort to construct the Veterans Memorial Wall in Halfway, Linebaugh worked on services held at the wall, Taylor said.

“(He was) just a very good guy,” Myers said Monday night.

Staff writer Don Aines contributed to this story.

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