13 October 2010

Family awaits answers in son's death

Maryland Gazette article about Andrew:
At 19-years-old, Andrew Arnold-McCoy, was like a lot of young men his age.

He lived day-by-day, worked at the Walmart for a steady paycheck and was always on the lookout for a new place where he and his friends could skateboard.

Sitting in the living room of the family's Glen Burnie home, Arnold-McCoy's parents remembered their son as a happy-go-lucky prankster who enjoyed an active social life with many friends.

"He made friends very easily," said Michael Schearer, his stepfather. "He was always telling jokes and making people laugh."
On Oct. 3, Arnold-McCoy's life came to a tragic end after he was involved in fatal car accident in Baltimore. Ten days later, Arnold-McCoy's family is still waiting for answers from police about their son's death.

"It's very frustrating not to know anything," said Schearer. "We know investigations take time, but it is frustrating going a week without knowing."

The accident occurred around 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 3, at the intersection of Patapsco Avenue and Potee Street, when the SUV that Arnold-McCoy was riding in collided with a car driven by an off-duty Annapolis police officer. Arnold-McCoy was thrown from the vehicle in the accident and died a short time later Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

In the days after the accident, Arnold-McCoy's parents contacted city police to gather the young man's personal effects, including his wallet and cell phone, and learn about the details surrounding the crash.

However, calls to the police were never returned and information was slow to come back to the family.

It was through reading news accounts that the family first learned the driver of the second vehicle was James Salyers, who joined the Annapolis Police Department in August after a 28-year career with the Baltimore police.

Their 19-year-old son was referred to as only an "unknown passenger," Schearer said. The first public statement about the wreck came from the Annapolis Police Department on Thursday.

Frustrated with the lack of information coming from police and the desire to have his stepson properly remembered, Schearer began speaking to the press over the weekend hoping that it would spur law enforcement to release details about the accident.

Schearer noted that it was unusual for almost an entire week to go by without the police releasing a statement to the press.

According to Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for Balitmore police, the delay was the result of a "perfect storm of miscommunication."

In the aftermath of the accident, the Maryland Transportation Authority Police was handling the investigation, so that members of the Baltimore Traffic Safety Division could attend the funeral of one of their own in Pennsylvania.

In light of the memorial service on Oct. 4, the department asked the MdTA to handle the preliminary collision reconstruction and investigation of the collision, Guglielmi said.

On Thursday, the investigation was handed back to city police.

Guglielmi confirmed that Saylers was driving a 2005 CTS south on Potee Street when he collided with the 2000 Dodge Durango, driven by 19-year-old Phil Dornberger of Pasadena. The intersection with Patapsco is controlled by a traffic light.
"We don't have much to say at this point," Guglielmi said. "We don't know who had the signal."

Police are waiting for the results of a drug and alcohol tests, which should be available by the end of this week, Gugleilmi said. Such tests are standard procedure.

No charges have been filed in the accident.

Gugleimi said there was no effort by police to delay information relating to the crash or to cover anything up. While the Schearers' say they take the department at its word, Salyer's connection to the department is not lost on them.

"They obviously knew who he was, it just makes you wonder," Schearer said. "They say there's no conflict of interest and I believe them."

Annapolis police spokesman Scott Baker said last week that Salyers will work in an administrative capacity until a final decision in the matter can be reached.
Once a final police report is completed, it will be forwarded to the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office for review. A decision on charges could take months.

Although the Schearers have been in contact with members of the Baltimore and the MdTA police departments this week, many of their question remained unanswered.

In the meantime, Arnold-McCoy's family, including Elizabeth McCoy, 16, Chloe Schearer, 3, and Michael Schearer, 1, are trying to come to come to terms with the accident.

The family held a memorial service last week. Tracy Schearer, Arnold-McCoy's mother, said the family was particularly touched to see her son memorialized by the local skateboarding community.

Arnold-McCoy's name is scrawled in chalk at the skate park at Sawmill Park, where he skated frequently.

"I was really amazed when I saw that," said Tracy Schearer. "It made me realize that there were even more people that loved him... Hopefully we will have answers for Andrew soon."
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