Driver Who Hit Race Crowd Tried to Stop, Uncle Says

Eight people are dead and at least five injured after a car hits a group of people watching an illegal race in Prince George's County.
By Ernesto Londoño and Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Driving north on Indian Head Highway after go-go band practice, Darren Jamar Bullock saw the silhouettes of dozens of spectators gathered for an illegal street race on the desolate Prince George's County road.

He told relatives that he slammed on the brakes of his white 1999 Ford Crown Victoria but that the car smashed into the crowd, leaving eight people dead and six injured.

"He doesn't remember seeing smoke" from the racing cars, James Michael Walls, who raised Bullock from childhood, said in an interview yesterday afternoon, relaying the 20-year-old's account of the crash that occurred about 3 a.m. Saturday in Accokeek. "All he remembers was coming onto a crowd of people."

Walls spoke outside his Waldorf townhouse while Bullock remained inside. "He hasn't been saying much of anything," Walls said. "He walks around like he's in a daze."

Bullock walked away from the crumpled car with a bruised lip, Walls said, and his older brother, who was in the passenger seat, also was not seriously injured.

The comments came on a day when police identified the eighth man killed in the crash as Otis Williams, 35, of Indian Head.

Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) said yesterday that it might take weeks to determine exactly what happened Saturday and whether anyone will face criminal charges.

"It's too early to make a final decision," Ivey said. "I want to wait for the interviews to be completed and the reconstruction report."

Collision reconstruction work typically takes several weeks as detectives measure skid marks, examine vehicles and interview witnesses. Authorities said they were still searching for the drivers of two cars who were racing illegally just before Bullock's car hit the spectators. A law enforcement source, speaking anonymously because the investigation is continuing, confirmed yesterday that Bullock was driving the Crown Victoria.

Walls, who is Bullock's uncle but said he considers him a son, sought to address some conflicting accounts of the crash. Some witnesses have said the Crown Victoria was traveling with its lights off when it slammed into the crowd; others have said the victims were shrouded by a cloud created as the racing cars roared off.

Walls said Bullock told him that the car's lights were on and that he doesn't remember seeing smoke. He also dismissed a rumor that the crash occurred during, or after, a police chase. He said Bullock was not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, was wearing a seat belt and believes he was going between 50 and 60 mph.

He described Bullock as a well-mannered, hardworking man with no ties to the illegal street-racing world. "The kid's only 20 years old," Walls said. "He was just coming down the road, not trying to hit anyone. He's a good kid."

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