A high-speed ride along Rte. 197 in Prince George's County ended in death early yesterday for three Maryland men and a woman when their 1970 Mustang spun out of control, crossed the dividing line and slammed into an oncoming station wagon, county police reported.
Police said alcohol and speeding were factors in the 2:41 a.m. accident, which demolished both vehicles. Three other people were injured, one of them critically.
Police identified the four dead as Charles Fletcher, 31, of 5105 Church Rd., Mitchellville; Wayne Grayson, 23, of 8810 Normal School Rd., Bowie; Sarah Cox, 26, of Box 249, Normal School Rd., and Larry Sterling, 24, of Somerset County on the lower Eastern Shore.
A fifth passenger in the car, William Proctor, 25, of 4906 Collington Rd., Bowie, was listed in critical condition after being flown by helicopter to Washington Hospital Center.
Two men riding in the other car, a 1971 Mercury station wagon, suffered minor injuries and were released after treatment at Doctors Hospital in Lanham. They were identified as Paul Flanigan, 21, of Mitchellville and Thomas Estok, 23, of Bowie.
The accident occurred, police said, when Fletcher, driving the Mustang north along Rte. 197, lost control of the car several hundred yards north of the intersection with Mitchelville Road. The car skidded more than 100 feet, crossed the two-lane road and struck the Mercury, according to police.
Though totally wrecked, both cars came to rest on the road. Rescue workers had to use hydraulic equipment and power saws to open the Mustang, survivor Flanigan said. They removed the roof in an attempt to free the victims, but found the four already dead, Flanigan said.
"I'd be dead right now if I hadn't had my seat belt on," said Flanigan, an auto mechanic, who was sitting in the station wagon's front seat with driver Estok. The two had just left a pizza parlor in Laurel and were heading home, he said.
It was not known where the Mustang had come from or was going. Wayne Grayson's father said he knew only that his son, who was studying electronics, had left the family home with two or three friends at about 11 p.m.