Two teenagers were killed Monday when the car they were in veered off a rural road and overturned in Prince George's County, the latest in a recent series of fatal wrecks in the Washington region involving young people.
Maryland State Police said Jacob Z. Young, 18, of Upper Marlboro lost control of a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier, which witnesses said was speeding on Route 301 in the Brandywine area. The crash, shortly after 8:45 p.m., killed Young and his girlfriend, Sara E. Holland, 16, also of Upper Marlboro, and critically injured another passenger, an 18-year-old man whom police declined to identity further.
At least 14 young people in the Washington area have been killed in recent weeks in car crashes that authorities said involved unsafe driving.
Friday, Sept. 24: Alicia Betancourt, 16, was killed when the car in which she was a passenger went off the road in Montgomery County.
Saturday, Sept. 25: Robert Middaugh and Michelle Timchalk, both 17, were killed when Middaugh lost control of the car he was driving in Montgomery.
Sunday, Sept. 26: Edward Monterroza, 19, and Elmer Martinez, 18, were killed when the car Monterroza was driving when off the road in Montgomery.
Saturday, Oct. 2: Carlos Brenes and Nelly A. Mursal, both 21, were killed when the car Brenes was driving struck a large sign pole in Montgomery. In a separate crash, Nicholas P. Thayer, 17, died when the car he was driving struck another car in Howard County. Also killed in the accident was Natalie Velasco, 3, a passenger in the vehicle Thayer's car hit.
Sunday, Oct. 10: Weston Griggs, 17, Vernon Williams Jr., 18, and Marshall Rawlings, 22, were killed when a car Griggs was driving struck a utility pole in Prince William County.
Monday, Oct. 11: Jacob Z. Young, 18, and Sara E. Holland, 16, were killed in Prince George's County when the car Young was driving went out of control and overturned.
Young graduated last spring from Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, and Holland was a junior at the school, family members said.
"Sara was in love with Jacob. We hope that they're together in heaven," Chris Hackett, an aunt of Holland's, said yesterday. "We can take a bit of comfort knowing they passed away together."
Their deaths bring to more than a dozen the number of young people killed in recent traffic accidents in the Washington area. Three weeks ago, five people ages 16 to 19 died in one weekend in Montgomery County. Then, on Oct. 2, four young people, including a 3-year-old girl, died in two crashes in Montgomery and Howard counties. Three young people were killed Sunday in a wreck in Prince William County.
Police said witnesses reported that Young was driving north on Route 301 at high speed when the car went out of control, veered off the road and overturned. Chris Hackett said that her niece, Young and the 18-year-old passenger were returning to Upper Marlboro from Southern Maryland when the crash occurred. The three had gone to dinner with Young's father, Hackett said.
Police said in a statement that when the car went out of control and left the road, "it overturned numerous times, ejecting both passengers." No other vehicles were involved in the accident, which remains under investigation, police said. Route 301 was closed for two hours after the accident.
News of the tragedy weighed on teachers, parents and students in Prince George's. A letter notifying parents of the crash was sent home with Frederick Douglass students yesterday. Principal Monica Goldson encouraged parents to talk with their children about driving safely.
"They are very inexperienced drivers," said Gwen Washington of Upper Marlboro, whose son Maurice Washington, 16, is a junior at the school. "Personally, my son will not be driving anytime soon, because I'm just afraid of what can happen to him. He'll probably be 18 or 19 before he sees his driver's license."
Sharee Adams, a senior at Frederick Douglass, said that students paused for a moment of silence for the dead youths during morning announcements yesterday.
"It was devastating," said Adams, 17. Holland was "still a student. She was in the 11th grade. Anyone who dies that young, it's devastating. She won't get to experience anything because her life was cut short."
Andrew Pruski, a social studies teacher at the school, said counseling was offered to grieving students. Pruski said Young, of the 14500 block of Elm Street, was a pitcher on the baseball team before graduating last year. "He was a likable student, very personable and, being involved with athletics, he was very popular," Pruski said.
Holland, of the 3000 block of Geaton Drive in Upper Marlboro, was a student who loved English classes and writing poetry, Hackett said. She was an only child.
"She loved to sing and dance," her aunt said. "She was wonderful at that. And she just always made people laugh."
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.