Authorities say man was under the influence in Pr. George’s crash that killed 4-year-old son

A District man who authorities say was driving under the influence during a crash that killed his 4-year-old son has been charged in Maryland with manslaughter and child abuse.

Charles Antjuan Smith, 31, was indicted Wednesday in Prince George’s County Circuit Court, prosecutors said. He also is charged with negligent homicide, negligent driving and driving while impaired in connection with the May 2013 accident that killed Charles Barack Antjuan Smith.

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Smith said in an interview that he was taking his son and 7-year-old stepdaughter to the circus and had turned to tend to the boy. He said the car struck something, causing him to black out. Smith said he was not under the influence of alcohol or any drug when the accident occurred.

“I would never put them in harm’s way,” Smith said of the children. “It is a misunderstanding.”

Authorities allege that Smith was speeding on Bladensburg Road in Cottage City the evening of May 9 with the children in the back seat of his Ford Explorer.

As he was changing lanes, his SUV hit a car. Then the vehicle hit another car, went over a curb, hit two utility poles, a tree and a brick wall, prosecutors said in a statement announcing Smith’s indictment. His son was thrown from the car and died. The stepdaughter was injured but survived.

“The defendant showed a complete disregard for the lives of the children in the back seat as well as other cars he came in contact with,” said John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County state’s attorney’s office. “We take that very seriously.”

Smith said Wednesday that his son was squirming out of his child safety seat. He said he reached toward the back of the vehicle to get the boy to sit down.

“In the midst of that, I clipped something ahead, and in just that split second of seeing what I hit, I banged my head and blacked out,” Smith said.

Smith said he must have inadvertently applied pressure to the gas pedal or lost control, resulting in the other crashes. He said he has a soft spot on his head from a previous accident that he thinks was struck in the May crash, leading to the blackout.

“My arm was almost completely severed,” said Smith, who added that he didn’t wake up from the accident until days after.

Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

 
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