MYERSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — An inmate is dead is three other inmates were injured after a Department of Corrections work crew was struck along I-70 in Frederick County.
The crash happened around 9:30 a.m. on I-70 at MD 17 in Myersville and caused major delays in the area Tuesday morning. I-70 was closed on the westbound side until 3:08 p.m.
The aftermath of the crash and the traffic could be seen from a helicopter above.
According to Maryland State Police, the accident began when a red tractor-trailer swerved across the solid white line for some unknown reason and struck a trailer connected to a Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correction Services van in the right shoulder.
Six inmates were standing outside of the van on the right side of the highway at the time of the crash. The tractor-trailer struck two pedestrians and then two others were injured by the debris from the crash.
“…and then continued on and struck four of the six inmates that were on road crew. Unfortunately, one of the inmates was killed and was pronounced dead at the scene, three other inmates who were injured were transported to an area hospital,” said Greg Shipley, Maryland State Police.
34-year-old inmate Milton Pajak was killed, while 24-year-old inmate Wade Rickets was transported to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown with serious injuries.
The two remaining inmates, identified as Robert Knight and Aaron Abrecht, were also taken to Meritus Medical Center for treatment.
The correctional officer, who was inside the van, was not injured.
After the crash a dump truck with a trailer also jackknifed in the media to avoid the earlier crash. Hazmat crews responded to deal with the fuel spill after tanks on that vehicle were damaged.
“We just don’t know at this point what caused him to run off the side of the road and again, this is a good reminder that the Move Over law has expanded in Maryland to include vehicles like this, service vehicles on the side of the road with amber lights that are flashing,” Shipley said.
All of the inmates were secured in another van. The crash remains under investigation.
The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services released a statement on the incident.
“It’s a sad day in our department. We see as part of our mission to keep those in our custody safe. And although we had all necessary safety precautions inp lace, it is a tragedy for these inmates repaying their debt to society and their loved ones, to whom we offer our sincerest condolences,”
No charges have been filed at this time, but state police said they will be consulting with the State’s Attorney’s office after the investigation.