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Pr. George's Crash Kills 15-Year-Old

By Clarence Williams and Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 14, 2004; Page B03

A 15-year-old football player at DuVal High School was killed last night in a two-car crash in Lanham, the latest young victim in a series of fatal collisions across the region in recent weeks, authorities said. Two teammates who were headed home in the same car from football practice were injured.

Prince George's County police did not immediately release the name of the dead youth, but DuVal coach DaLawn Parrish identified him as David Butler, a sophomore who started at linebacker, punted and was the backup quarterback for the Tigers. Butler was the team's leading tackler, Parrish said.

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Unsafe Driving

At least 15 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.

Wednesday, Oct. 13: David Butler, 15, died when the Saturn in which he was a passenger collided with a Mercedes-Benz in Lanham.

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"He was a special player to me," Parrish said early today. "He was a kid who never gave me any problems. He had tremendous upside."

Police said the youth suffered head injuries while riding in the back seat of a 1995 Saturn driven by a teammate from Landover who is 16. The driver, whom Parrish identified as Joseph Washington, and the third occupant of the car, a 17-year-old from Lanham, were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not life-threatening, said Cpl. Joe Merkel, a police spokesman.

The teenagers had just turned south from Crandall Road onto Woodfield Chapel Road when a Mercedes-Benz sedan struck the rear of the Saturn, Merkel said. The Saturn spun and crashed into a tree. The Mercedes stopped about a half-mile away because it was disabled, Merkel said.

The man driving the Mercedes, who was not identified, was questioned at the scene, Merkel said. No charges had been filed.

The 15-year-old was flown to Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead several hours later, Merkel said.

At least 11 people 22 years old and younger have been killed in traffic accidents across the region in recent weeks.

Parrish said he spent much of the night at the hospital with David's family and on his cell phone with players. "We've been calling each other," he said. "We have a family atmosphere, and everybody sticks together."

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