Late Wednesday night police got a call about a horrible accident on Indian Head Highway where it passes through Oxon Hill. Immediately police knew what had happened. It was along "The Triangle" and it was summer and the all-too-familiar scene of teen-age drag racers' cars wrapped around a telephone pole had repeated itself. Late that night, Indian Head Highway claimed the sixth and seventh teen-age lives of the year.
Robert Julian Adams Jr., 19, and Frank Wendell Campbell, 16, both of Oxon Hill, were dead on arrival at Greater Southeast Community Hospital.
"The Triangle" that runs down Indian Head Highway juts off on Livingston Road and circles back to meet Old Fort Road on Indian Head Highway.
It is a legendary strip that provides ideal roads for pedal-to-the-metal racing for teen-agers during the summer. It also is notorious as one of the deadliest roadways in the Washington area.
Reasons for "The Triangle's" infamy are many. As Indian Head Highway sweeps traffic out of the District of Columbia, it turns into one of the longest, straightest stretches of highway in the area.
Illegal drag racing after nightfall is popular there because the strip is patroled by Maryland State Police headquartered in faraway Forestville. Patrols often are sparse.
Some police admit privately they they will not drive down "The Triangle" for fear of their lives. Many police officers said they refuse to let their families drive in the area.
Attempts have been made in the past to control the high speed races that rush down Indian Head. Radar traps have been set to clock the late-model Cameros and carefully-tuned Dodge Chargers roaring down the streets at 100 mph. Radar still is used on "The Triangle," but police say the problem is too big to be eliminated.
Adding to the dangers of "The Triangle" is a series of stop lights that have a quick yellow light and provide no left turn signal. As a result, drivers wanting to turn off Indian Head have to fight onrushing traffic and pray they will make it across.
Mention "The Triangle" to some Oxon Hill residents and they immediately say there is no other alley, street, road or highway they fear or avoid more than Indian Head. Many have friends or friends of friends who have been in serious accidents along "The Triangle."
According to an account given police by a witness, four teen-agers from Oxon Hill were waiting Wednesday night for their chance to race their 'rod' against some hotshot's Corvette they had noticed a few nights before.
At a stop light, the four teen-agers in the Dodge Charger lined up next to the Corvette and revved their engine. The gauntlet had been cast.
The Corvette never stopped after the Charger lost control, skidding from one side of Indian Head across the wide grass median to the southbound lanes, finally smashing into a telephone pole.
Two in the Charger were killed. A 16-year-old passenger was treated for abdominal injuries and released. The fourth rider remains in serious condition at Southern Maryland Hospital Center.
"Last night after I got off work I was driving home along Indian Head and got caught in the traffic tie-up after the accident," Martin Richardson, manager of Fort Washington Beverages store on Indian Head Highway, said.
"The first thing I thought of was, 'Well, there's another one.' Those accidents don't surprise me anymore. I just get ready to hit my brake any second."
Richardson said he remembered several weeks last summer when there seemed to be a serious accident nearly every night.
He said customers would enter his store shaking and exclaiming they had just missed being hit on "The Triangle."
Erol Sevin, an attendant at a nearby Exxon station, said he used to view the mangled hulks of steel that once were teen-agers' dragging machines at a tow truck storage lot on Indian Head.
He said he used to be amazed at how crushed some of the cars had become. He has stopped going to the lot.
"The cars, the death those wrecks meant just all started to run together. It stopped being so amazing."