Two cars, each traveling at between 90 and 100 miles per hour, collided on I-295 in Oxon Hill, killing two Prince George's County men, Maryland state police said yesterday.
The Saturday night accident did not appear to be the result of a planned race, police said, but the site once was known for such races.
The men were identified by police as 22-year-old Lewis Wood III of 11500 Metronome Ct., Clinton, and 41-year-old Robert Schuler Jr. of 7805 Barrett Rd., Fort Washington.
Wood was a passenger in a 1985 Camaro driven by Barry C. Sydnor, 22, of 6233 Dimrill Ct., Fort Washington, police said. Wood was taken by state police helicopter to Prince George's General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
State police Cpl. Duane Lee said Sydnor was slightly injured in the accident but refused to be treated.
"He was very upset about his friend," Lee said. "He had his friend's blood on his clothes. The whole thing was a mess."
Schuler was driving the other car, a 1986 Corvette, police said.
The cars were traveling south on I-295, about five miles north of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, when the accident occurred about 8 p.m. Saturday, police said.
Schuler's car approached Sydnor's car from behind, police said, and Schuler tried to pass by driving on the shoulder. Schuler's car struck a guardrail, hit the right side of Sydnor's car, skidded and flipped over before landing on its wheels and catching fire, police said. Sydnor lost control of his car, which smashed into a concrete construction barrier, police said.
None of the accident victims was wearing a seat belt, police said.
Lee said a preliminary investigation found that excessive speed, the use of alcohol and improper passing were the probable causes of the accident, which was still under investigation.
The section of I-295 north of the accident scene for years had been used as a site for drag racing, state police Cpl. Michael Thomas said. But such activity has declined considerably, he said, because of the large number of state police officers who patrol the area. "We get very few, if any, reports or calls about racing in that area," Thomas said.
Wood's mother, Judith Wood, said her son and Sydnor had been close friends for more than 10 years. "They were like brothers," she said.
She said Wood, who would have been 23 tomorrow, graduated in 1981 from Crossland High School and attended Lincoln Technical Institute in Capitol Heights and Capitol Institute of Technology in Laurel, where he studied auto mechanics and engineering.
Judith Wood said her son loved cars but she did not think he would be involved in a high-speed race on an interstate. "He was very good with cars," she said. "He worked on our cars and his friends'.