2 Die in Road-Rage Crash on I-270

A Chrysler Sebring convertible overturned, ejecting the couple inside, after the driver exchanged gestures with the driver of a Chevy pickup, police said.
A Chrysler Sebring convertible overturned, ejecting the couple inside, after the driver exchanged gestures with the driver of a Chevy pickup, police said. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)

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By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 12, 2007

The young couple in the convertible were headed to a North Carolina beach house when they crossed paths with a man in a green pickup truck south of Frederick yesterday morning.

The two male drivers got into a spat, police said, "exchanging obscene gestures" as they whizzed south on Interstate 270 during the thick of rush hour.

Near the Urbana exit, in an apparent attempt to have the last word, police said, the pickup driver slammed on his brakes when the Chrysler Sebring convertible was on the truck's tail, prompting the convertible's driver to swerve right. The convertible slammed against the guardrail, flipped over and barreled into an embankment shortly after 8 a.m.

The driver, Christian M. Luciano, 28, and his girlfriend, Lindsay L. Bender, 25, both of Harrisburg, Pa., were ejected from the car and died almost instantly, police said.

The driver of the pickup sped away. Police are searching for him.

"How could something so stupid lead to this?" Charles Bender, Lindsay's father, said last night in a phone interview. "They had their whole life ahead of them. I feel sorry for whomever that driver is. I have no hate. I have sorrow."

Maryland State Police troopers described the driver as a white male in his 30s with dark, collar-length hair who was wearing a dark baseball cap. The driver was behind the wheel of a light-green late 1990s or early 2000 model Chevy Silverado standard-cab truck with a diamond-pattern rear bumper, said Trooper 1st Class Eric Corbin, one of the investigating officers.

"We're definitely looking for anyone with information of his whereabouts," Corbin said.

Corbin said Luciano and Bender were not wearing seat belts. Investigators are not certain how fast the vehicles were traveling, what started the dispute or how long it had been going on, Corbin said. Witnesses told investigators that the drivers had been quarreling since at least Route 85, which intersects I-270 just south of Frederick. The Urbana exit is a few miles south of Frederick.

Outbursts of road rage are a daily occurrence on I-270, which has become increasingly congested in recent years, police said.

"We get calls every single day," Corbin said, "particularly during rush hour."

Charles Bender, 55, said he spoke to his daughter minutes before the crash. He said Luciano's car had been having problems, so the couple borrowed Lindsay's mother's convertible.

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