Six construction workers were killed on March 22 when an apparently out-of-control passenger car careened into a work zone along the Interstate-695 Beltway in Baltimore.
The preliminary investigation indicates that the car, a gray Acura, was traveling on the I-695 Inner Loop when it struck the front passenger-side corner panel of a Volkswagen Jetta while attempting to change lanes. The impact caused the car to lose control and travel into the work zone, located along the highway’s left shoulder and isolated from the travel lanes by concrete barriers.
“Crash Team investigators believe this [impact] caused the Acura to lose control and subsequently travel through the barrier opening into the work zone and overturned,” according to a state police press release. “The construction workers were working in an active work zone on the left shoulder of the inner loop of I-695 in Baltimore County when the incident occurred.”
The workers, who were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel, included five employees of Gaithersburg, Md.-based Concrete General Inc. They were identified as Rolando Ruiz, 46, of Laurel, Md.; Carlos Orlando Villatoro Escobar, 43, of Frederick, Md.; Jose Armando Escobar, 52, of Frederick, Md.; Mahlon Simmons III, 31, of Union Bridge, Md.; Mahlon Simmons II, 52, of Union Bridge, Md.
In a statement, the company said it "extends our deepest thoughts and condolences to the families and loved ones of those affected. We appreciate your thoughts for our employees and their families during this time of loss." It did not disclose the employees' job roles or other employment details. The firm was started in 1972 and now has 350 employees, according to its website. Online obituaries for Mahlon Simmons II and Mahlon Simmons III say the former was a superintendent for Concrete General, and a 31-year company veteran. His son was a carpenter and foreman at the firm, and a 13-year veteran.
Also killed was Sybil Lee DiMaggio, 46, of Glen Burnie, Md., an employee of Sparks, Md.-based KCI Technologies Inc. A Linkedin profile describes her as a road inspector for the firm since last September, and previously employed as a construction inspector for Volkert Inc., as a construction material tester for Specialized Engineering and as a construction inspector for Hill International Inc.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our inspector, Sybil DiMaggio," said KCI Chairman and CEO Nathan Beil. "As various agencies are investigating the crash, our thoughts remain with the families of all those lost.”
Click here for options to make donations in memory of the six emplloyees and to assist their families.
The Acura’s 54-year-old driver and sole occupant was transported to a local hospital for treatment, while the 20-year-old driver of the other vehicle was unhurt.
“Once the investigation is complete, the Crash Team will submit its findings to the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s office for review to determine whether charges will be filed,” the state police said in its press release.
Two investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are conducting an independent safety probe of the accident. In a statement, the agency said it will "focus on issues related to speeding, work zone protection for the construction workers and collusion avoidance technology." They are coordinating efforts and investigative resources with the Maryland State Police and state transportation agencies.
The construction work being performed at the time of the accident was part of a $173 million Transportation Systems Management and Operations project for I-695 aimed at reducing congestion and increasing reliability on nearly 19 miles of the highway between I-70 and MD 43 (White Marsh Boulevard). The project includes converting the left shoulder into a travel lane during peak travel hours.