ABINGDON, Md. (WJZ) — Despite the heroic efforts of a Maryland state trooper who pulled three people from a burning vehicle early Saturday morning, two of those victims have died as a result of injuries sustained in a crash on I-95 in Harford County that may have been precipitated by an incident of road rage.
The deceased victims are identified as Veney B. Tanner, Jr., 31, of Abingdon, Md., and Janelle E. Jackson, 17, of Baltimore. Tanner was pronounced dead at Chesapeake Hospital. Jackson was flown to Shock Trauma where she later died. Also injured in the crash were Myron Doram, 38, of Randallstown, Md., and Clinton T. Griffin, 63, of Newark, Del. Both were transported by ambulance to Bayview Hospital for treatment of their injuries.
The crash occurred just after 2 a.m. Saturday on northbound I-95 at Rt. 24, near Abingdon. Cpl. Kevin Watkins was off-duty when he arrived at the crash, which had just occurred. A 2005 Lexus, driven by Tanner and also occupied by Doram and Jackson, was on fire. All three people were still inside the burning vehicle. Police say Watkins entered the car repeatedly, pulling each person out and away from the car. After moving the victims safely away from the fire, he began CPR on Tanner, who was unresponsive.
The next trooper on the scene arrived about a minute after Watkins had pulled the third person out of the car. He said the Lexus was fully engulfed in fire at that point and would have likely trapped all three victims if Watkins had not arrived and acted immediately as he did.
The preliminary investigation indicates this incident may have begun with some type of traffic dispute between Tanner and the occupants of a dark colored Jeep. Police have been told the dispute may have started while both vehicles were traveling north on I-95. Investigators were told the Jeep stopped suddenly, forcing Tanner to stop.
Both vehicles pulled to the shoulder of I-95 just past the Rt. 24 exit and several persons were seen getting out of the Jeep. At least one of those persons was banging on the windows of the Lexus.
For reasons uncertain at this time, the investigation indicates Tanner pulled away from the shoulder and turned the Lexus left across the northbound lanes of I-95. As he entered the fast lane of traffic, he was struck by a northbound 2006 UD box truck, driven by Griffin. Both vehicles traveled off the left side of the roadway and the Lexus caught fire.
The occupants of the Jeep apparently got back into the vehicle and it left the scene. Anyone with information about this Jeep or its occupants is urged to contact Maryland State Police at 410-537-1150.
Watkins of the JFK Highway Barrack was injured due to smoke inhalation during the rescue. He was transported to Upper Chesapeake Hospital where he was treated and released.
The northbound lanes of I-95 at Rt. 24 remained closed for about five hours. The highway reopened completely just before 7:30 a.m.
The investigation is continuing.