Three persons were killed and four were injured in Clinton late Saturday in a head-on collision of two cars on Branch Avenue.

Maryland State Police reported yesterday that James Stephen Erxleben, 27, of 3191 Hightimber Ct. in Waldorf, was driving his 1981 Camaro south on Branch Avenue at high speed when he swerved to avoid a car that had changed lanes in front of him.

Police said Erxleben lost control of his car, which crossed the median and collided with a station wagon that was traveling north on Branch Avenue.

Erxleben was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, as were two of the five passengers of the second car, Jarvis Breland, 48, of 3713 Camelot Dr. in Annandale, and Nita Intveld, 34, of 5629 Herberts Crossing Dr. in Burke.

The driver of the second car, Edgar Allen Breland, 52, also of the Annandale address, was listed in critical condition yesterday at Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton.

Other passengers were John Craig Keller Jr., 30, of 5629 Herberts Crossing Dr., Burke, and Dale Walter, 52, of 2703 Westford Ct., Falls Church.

Both were listed in serious condition at Southern Maryland Hospital Center. Cathy Walter, 48, also of Falls Church, was treated and released.

State police reported that Edgar Breland was the only passenger wearing a seat belt.