09 October 2010

Police identify crash fatality, family mourns

The Baltimore Sun has an article that details some of the frustrations we've had finding out what exactly happened with Andrew's accident.  Thank you to Jessica Anderson at the Baltimore Sun for helping us tell Andrew's story.  It is understandable that some may ask why did I speak to the media?  I don't doubt that the Maryland Transportation Authority Police and the Baltimore City Police are probably not happy that I spoke to the media, but I'm not really concerned with their feelings.  I have been told that police departments typically release at least some initial information about fatalities within 24 hours, but in this case there was nothing released until Thursday.  And even then, that was a press release from the Annapolis Police Department that indicated that one of their police officers (Officer Salyers) was involved in the crash.  The Baltimore Police only confirmed the accident late Thursday when asked by the media; four full days after the accident.

To be completely honest, the reason I spoke to the media in the first place is because I didn't want Andrew's memory to be as an "unidentified passenger."  I want people to know that there was a human being behind that label.  The human being was our son Andrew.

Here is the Sun article:
Almost one week after a fatal crash involving an Annapolis police officer, police released the identity of the victim.
Baltimore City police said Andrew Arnold-McCoy 19, of Glen Burnie was killed in the Oct. 3 crash, but McCoy's father said that police did not tell the family how the crash happened or that an officer was involved until almost a week later.
"We are just frustrated," said Michael Schearer, McCoy's father. "It's hard to have closure if you don't know what happened."
The accident occurred at the intersection of Potee Street and Patapsco Avenue in Brooklyn, but the city's department crash team did not respond because members of the crash team were attending the funeral of Officer James Fowler at St. Mark Church in Catonsville Monday. A crash team from the Maryland Transportation Authority investigated.
"The delay was for the process of transferring paperwork over from a state agency to a city agency," said Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. "There's still a lot of loose ends," including the results for the drivers' blood alcohol level and drug tests, he said.
Schearer said a city police officer notified the family of his son's death early Monday morning, but he was not able to reach the officer that week and no one from the transportation authority contacted him.
"We didn't have any contact with anyone," Schearer said, saying he did not believe police deliberately withheld information, but that the family was upset it took so long to learn what had happened.
He said he didn't realize a police officer was involved in the crash until reading news reports: "We read [about it]," he said. "That was the first time we heard anything about the other person."
On Saturday, a city police officer contacted the family and gave it more details, but the crash remains under investigation.
"They called it the perfect storm of miscommunication," Schearer said. "I understand it takes a while" for the investigation, but he said the family was told nothing about what happened to McCoy.
Authorities did not notify media of the accident until Thursday afternoon, when Annapolis police sent out a news release saying one of their off-duty officers had been involved in a fatal crash. That night, city police referred questions to the Transportation Authority. Spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Green confirmed the accident had occurred but declined to release additional details, including the victim's name, saying he could not comment further while the investigation remained ongoing.
On Saturday, Guglielmi confirmed the victim's identity.
Guglielmi said, "These accidents take time to investigate, especially in the case of a fatality. I know [officers] reached out," but he said that there was little information to release.
He said McCoy was riding with Philip Dornberger, 19, of Pasadena east on Patapsco Avenue when he collided with Officer James Salyers, who was driving south on Potee Street in a Cadillac CTS.
Police said it is unclear at this point which driver had the red light.
McCoy was ejected and died later that night at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. His memorial service was held Friday afternoon at the Singleton Funeral Home in Glen Burnie.
Salyers, 51, joined Annapolis police Aug. 26 and has been placed on administrative duty, according to Annapolis police. He was off-duty at the time and was driving his personal vehicle, police said.
Schearer said McCoy was most likely visiting friends in the area when the crash occurred.
He said his son lived at home and worked at the Walmart in Severn. He loved skateboarding: "He took his skateboard everywhere."
Schearer said McCoy was the loving big brother, leaving behind three siblings, 16, 3 and 1 year old.
"We told them, but they didn't quite understand," Schearer said.
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