11 October 2010

Family of crash victim left in dark

Peter Hermann, the Baltimore Sun crime reporter and writer of the Sun's Baltimore Crime Beat blog, followed up yesterday's article with some comments about Andrew's accident.  The emphases in bold are mine:
On Sunday, Oct. 3, two cars collided at Patapsco Avenue and Potee Street in South Baltimore. One man was thrown from the vehicle and died.

City police, busy preparing for a funeral for an officer who died in a car crash in Pennsylvania, asked the Maryland Transportation Authority police to handle the investigation. As a result, neither agency said anything about the crash to either the media or to the public.

But this is not just a media-feels wrong story. The family of the 19-year-old victim, Andrew Arnold-McCoy of Glen Burnie, didn't get much information either. In fact, officers who notified him of the death did not tell that the driver of the other was an off-duty police officer from Annapolis.

The investigation into the cause of the accident continues -- one of drivers blew a red light -- but the refusal of the authorities, particularly those in the Maryland Transportation Authority, to release even the most basic details is perplexing and has angered the victim's family.

"We are just frustrated," Michael Schearer, McCoy's father, told Sun reporter Jessica Anderson. "It's hard to have closure if you don't know what happened."
We at the Sun learned about the accident from the Annapolis Police Department when they sent out a news release Thursday afternoon saying that one of their officers, James Salyers, had been placed on desk duty because of his involvement in the crash.

Calls to city police were referred to the transportation authority, where a spokesman confirmed the crash but refused to release more details, including the name of the victim which is usually made public after relatives are notified. Sgt. Jonathan Green told Anderson that the name couldn't be released until the investigation was complete.

The victim's father contacted The Sun after seeing a brief story of the accident and saying that he hadn't been told a police officer was involved. He had already buried his son and a death notice had been published. On Saturday, after Green still refused to confirm the identity of the victim, city police released the name.

This delay not only turned what otherwise would've been a small story on the accident into a larger story noting the anger and frustration of the victims' relatives, who were needlessly kept in the dark over a pertinent detail of their son's death, a detail they had to learn from reading the paper instead of being told by police. And the public was needlessly kept in the dark about a fatal car accident involving a police officer.
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