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Two people badly burned in vehicle accident near Crystal Grottoes

July 28, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Two people were badly burned in a Sunday morning accident west of Boonsboro in which the sport utility vehicle they were in caught fire after hitting a fire hydrant, rupturing the fuel tank, Boonsboro Deputy Fire Chief Keith Abrecht said. Abrecht said it appeared the Mazda passenger vehicle hit the fire hydrant head-on, shearing off the fire hydrant before rolling about 30 yards, taking down the Crystal Grottoes sign and landing in a creek.
Photo courtesy of Matt Williams

BOONSBORO — Two people were badly burned in a Sunday morning accident west of Boonsboro in which the car they were in caught fire after hitting a fire hydrant, rupturing the fuel tank, Boonsboro Deputy Fire Chief Keith Abrecht said.

The man driving the car and the female passenger had severe or third-degree burns, Abrecht said.

Both had life-threatening injuries, said Sgt. Daniel Faith with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

The man was transported via LifeNet helicopter to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Faith said.

A Maryland State Police helicopter in Baltimore was called, but had to turn around due to weather, so the woman was transported to Meritus Medical Center, Abrecht said. There was rain in the area and a front toward the east, he said.

Faith said Sunday afternoon that he did not have any more information about the conditions of the man and the woman. He said the sheriff’s office probably would not be able to identify the people Sunday.

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The accident involving a Mazda occurred around 6 a.m. Sunday in the 19800 block of Shepherdstown Pike, near Crystal Grottoes, Faith said.

The male driver was 21 years old, according to Faith.

Abrecht said it appeared the car hit the fire hydrant head-on, shearing off the fire hydrant before rolling about 30 yards, taking down the Crystal Grottoes sign and landing in a creek.

Both victims were found on the grass, awake, next to the creek, he said. Abrecht said he didn’t know if they were ejected from the car or got out of the car on their own.

From the skid marks in the grass and the damage, it appeared the Mazda was heading east on Shepherdstown Pike.

Eyewitness Matt Williams said he was driving west on Shepherdstown Pike on his way home from work at Weis Markets in Boonsboro, when he saw the Mazda RX-8 heading east and going off the road.

Williams, 18, of Keedysville, said he “saw parts of the sign fly up and a trail of flame follow, and the car go up (in flames).”

Then there was a fireball, he said.

Williams said after he pulled over and called 911, he went over and the man said everyone was out of the car. The man was walking around for a while and the woman was sitting down, rocking back and forth, Williams said.

Approximately 98 percent of the fuel burned off in the fire, with maybe a little residual fuel making it into the creek, Abrecht said. Fire officials probably will call the Maryland Department of the Environment to make them aware of the small leak, he said.

The fire hydrant was designed to break away at ground level, so there was no water leak, he said.

The Mazda was destroyed, Abrecht said.

Jerry Downs, owner of Crystal Grottoes, said he heard a noise and looked out the upstairs window. That’s when he saw the fire and called 911, he said.

Downs said it appeared as if the entire front lawn was on fire, and there was a car on fire in the stream.

The car had Virginia tags, he said.

Downs said the impact of the car left a dent in the opposite side of the stream bank.

Car parts could be seen in and around the stream.

En route to the stream, the Mazda hit the large Crystal Grottoes sign that has stood along the state highway for many decades, Downs said.

The sign was standing awkwardly Sunday afternoon, with wood strewn around it, including a piece of charred sign.

The boards with the business’ name on them were propped up so visitors arriving from the east could find the tourist spot, he said.

In addition to the First Hose Co. of Boonsboro, Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Co. also responded, Abrecht said.

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