An 18-year-old driver was killed yesterday and two female passengers, both 16, were injured when the sport-utility vehicle they were in went out of control and overturned near Friendly High School in Prince George's County, authorities said.
The girls, whom police did not identify, are students at Friendly and should have been in school at the time of the crash, according to police and school officials. The driver, identified by police last night as Kevin Anthony Nelson of Temple Hills, was not a student, officials said.
The accident occurred shortly after 1 p.m. in front of a gas station in the 9500 block of Allentown Road, less than one mile from Friendly High School in Fort Washington, where classes began yesterday.
Sgt. Tammy Sparkman, a police spokeswoman, said the SUV was headed away from the school when the crash occurred, about 90 minutes before classes were dismissed for the day. She said the driver apparently lost control after swerving to avoid hitting a car that was turning into the gas station parking lot.
None of the three was wearing a seat belt, Sparkman said. She said the driver was hurled from the SUV and struck his head on the pavement. The girls suffered minor cuts and bruises and were taken to a hospital, Sparkman said.
Mozamy Sosmatch, owner of the Citgo gas station, said he was with an employee inside the convenience store when he heard the sound of a car horn. He said he looked up to see the gray Nissan Pathfinder swerve, hit the curb and flip over, landing on its side in the middle of the two-lane road.
"I tried to help, but there was blood everywhere," said Sosmatch, 31.
He said that the two girls screamed and cried and that one of them told him she was skipping school to be with her boyfriend, the driver.
"She said, 'We skipped school and we're going to get in trouble, but my boyfriend is in there dying,' " said Sosmatch, who was visibly shaken. "There wasn't much I could do except hold her down and wait with her."
Investigators remained at the scene through the afternoon, drawing lines around the vehicles and taking pictures.
Yellow police tape blocked a portion of the road, and the asphalt was littered with shards of glass, chunks of tire and papers.
"This is just an unfortunate way to start the school year," said Sparkman, adding that earlier in the day, officers issued 32 speeding tickets on the stretch of road that leads to Friendly High School.
Kelly Alexander, a spokeswoman for the county's schools, said the school system tries to account for the whereabouts of students. As for students leaving schools without permission, she said, "We're doing our best to try to ensure that it doesn't happen."
But she added that administrators "can't lock them up and can't watch everyone."
Staff writer Nancy Trejos contributed to this report.