Driver Who Hit Crowd, Killing 8, Is Charged

Darren Jamar Bullock.
Darren Jamar Bullock. (Mark Gail - The Washington Post)
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By Ruben Castaneda and Avis Thomas-Lester
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In a dramatic new account of a deadly accident that killed eight people in February, the driver of the car that plowed into a crowd watching an illegal street race was charged with vehicular manslaughter yesterday as authorities said for the first time that he was involved in a separate race on the dark rural highway in Prince George's County.

A grand jury indicted Darren Jamar Bullock, 21, and another driver, Tavon Taylor, 18, both of Waldorf, on eight counts each of vehicular manslaughter as well as for two additional offenses, reckless driving and engaging in a speed contest.

Bullock had told family members he was driving the speed limit about 3 a.m. Feb. 16 when he came upon the crowd standing in the middle of Indian Head Highway in Accokeek. But at a news conference yesterday, State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said surveillance photos and witness accounts led police to conclude that Bullock was racing; Ivey (D) declined to say whether police think Taylor also crashed into spectators.

A surveillance camera at a nearby factory caught Bullock and Taylor driving with their headlights off a quarter-mile from the crash site, said a source close to the investigation. "They're caught on camera at 110 miles per hour," said the source, who spoke anonymously because the investigation is ongoing. By comparing images of the cars to fixed objects, such as light poles, investigators calculated the speed of the vehicles, the source said.

The crash made national headlines and drew attention to the secretive world of illegal street racing, a subculture that has thrived for decades in parts of the Washington region, including Prince George's and Charles counties.

The accident occurred as Bullock's white Ford Crown Victoria sedan crashed into spectators who had just moved on the roadway to watch two other cars race away. At the time, many witnesses suggested that Bullock was speeding and that an additional car was involved, but police had no conclusive evidence to bear that out.

Family members of those killed or injured in the crash said they are glad to see someone held accountable for the carnage.

"I just wanted the truth to come out," said Canice Jones-Proctor of Waldorf, whose son, Gregory Johnson Jr., was the youngest of the six people injured that morning. "I knew when the accident happened there was more to it than was coming out. I just wanted the truth to be told."

Proctor said her family knows relatives of Bullock's and Taylor's.

Taylor was arrested about 4:20 p.m. yesterday at his home in Waldorf. With his head down, wearing a white dress shirt, he was led out of the rowhouse in the 2700 block of Red Lion Place by four Charles sheriff's deputies. A deputy drove him away in an unmarked Ford Expedition.

Tish Cave, who said she was Taylor's cousin, said in a phone interview that Taylor was a good student and had planned to enroll in a local community college in the fall. She said he had an interest in cars but characterized this as nothing unusual for his age.

"What teenager isn't into having the wheels, the bling-bling and the music, boom-boom?" Cave said. "Every teenager is into it. He's a typical teenager."

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