Last Saturday night about 9:30, Theresa Lynn Dugan and her finance were on their way to visit a relative and, as they were making a turn off Rte. 198 near Laurel, according to police, their small foreign car was slammed broadside by a Pontiac LeMans.
Dugan, 22, was killed in the crash. Her boyfriend was injured.
Moments after the accident, Anne Arundel police arrived at the scene and discovered that the driver of the other car was an off-duty Laurel city policeman, Gary Lee Harris, who once worked on the Anne Arundel force.
The police report filed later states that Harris was driving with his lights off and that he told officers he had been drinking before the accident. It also states that Harris was not given a Breathalyzer test or arrested.
The officer on the scene, Daivd A. Beardon, said "it looked like he [Harris] had been drinking -- there was that certain look in his eyes." But Beardon said he was reluctant to arrest Harris in part because he knew him and felt that any action he took would constitute a "conflict of interest."
Although the incident is being investigated by the Anne Arundel state's attorney and the Laurel city police department, Dugan's family and friends are complaining that Harris' police background will prevent a fair inquiry.
"Sure there's something behind it," said Frances Ann Dugan, the victim's mother. "It's very bad. No one has stopped in. No policeman has come here to talk to us. We don't even know where her purse is."
Two of Dugan's friends say they saw beer cans strewn over the floor and seats of Harris car after it was towed from the accident scene. But they say that when they returned the next day, the car had been cleaned out and the car smelled of cologne instead of beer.
The accident occurred when Dugan's fiance, William M. Fallica, was making a left turn from Maryland Rte. 198 into the Maryland City Plaza parking lot in Laurel. Police said that Harris' car had sideswiped another automobile about 400 feet down the road and was operating without lights when it struck Fallica's car.
Fallica was treated at a local hospital and released. Dugan was taken by helicopter to the shock trauma unit of the University Hospital in Baltimore, where she was pronounced dead an hour later.
Officer Beardon, one of several officers on the scene, filed an accident report that said that Harris had been drinking.
"He looked like he had had a couple of beers," Beardon said yesterday. But he said he did not notice Harris staggering or falling down, and did not smell alcohol on his breath. Therefore he decided he did not have enough cause to administer a Breathalyzer test, which would provide a chemical determination of Harris' sobriety. He also said he felt that it might be a "conflict of interest" because he knew Harris, and that any charges should be brought by the state's attorney office.
"Policemen look out for policemen," said Dugan's fiance, Fallica, 21, in an interview yesterday. Fallica, who now wears a neck brace and is under medication, said that he had just turned off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and was downshifting his car with his left turn signal on when Dugan asked him where they were going.
"I told her I would stop to get some Pepsis, and she said that was fine. After that it's a blank. That's when the guy hit me. I remember getting out of the car and saying to the other driver [Harris]: 'Where in the hell were your lights on?' I remember his standing there."
Two of Dugan's friends, Michael Stuart and Donald Kurz, said they went Sunday to the lot where the cars had been towed, and noticed beer cans littered over the back seat and the floor on the passenger side of Harris' Pontiac. "There were Budweiser beer cans -- about 10 or 12 cans, a shirt, a pair of pants on the back seat and other garbage. And it definitely smelled of beer," said Stuart.
The next day, according to Stuart, they returned and found the car had been "completely cleaned out, like it had been vacuumed."
Stuart said he saw what appeared to be an empty cologne bottle which he had not noticed the first time.
Anne Arundel police refused to comment yesterday on whether items were taken from the car. Officer Beardon said he did not look inside either car at the time of the accident. Gordon Singer, of the Singer Towing Co. where the cars are now parked, said police did come to his lot, said they were investigating the case, and took a "portable police radio and softball equipment" from Harris' car. But he denied there were any beer cans or the smell of alcohol in the car.
Dugan's brother-in-law, Terrence Sutton, a Prince George's County policy officer, said that because Beardon had been a member of the Anne Arundel Police Department from 1972 to 1975 and apparently knew Harris, he should not have conducted the investigation himself. "Police are a tight and close-knit group," said Sutton.
Beardon said yesterday that his supervisor was out on another case at the time of the accident.
Harris could not be reached for comment yesterday. His attorney did not return a reporter's telephone calls. Laurel city police, however, said that Harris had been placed on administrative leave until the completion of an investigation being conducted by the department's internal affairs division.
An Anne Arundel County policy spokesman said the probable cause of the accident was the fact that Harris' lights were out. He said that the fact that the police report said that Harris had been drinking was still not enough reason to administer a breathalyzer test, which he said can only be given after a person is charged with driving while intoxicated. Testing for alcohol in the body, he said, is like searching for evidence and "probable cause" is needed.