They were part of an inmate crew doing work along the highway.
Myersville, Md (KM). Maryland State Police say charges are pending in connection with a fatal pedestrian accident on Interstate 70 near Myersville Tuesday morning.
Spokesman Ron Snyder says a tractor trailer traveling westbound along I-70 near Route 17 swerved across the solid white line and on to the shoulder, striking a trailer connected to a Correctional Services van which was parked alongside I-70. “Outside of that van were six inmates who were working on the right side of the highway. After striking the van, the tractor trailer continued and struck two of the inmate pedestrians. Two other inmates were struck by debris,” he says.
State Police say one of the inmates, Milton Pajak, 34, was pronounced dead at the scene. The second inmate who was struck, Wade Ricketts, 24, was transported to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown. The two inmates hit by debris, Robert Knight and Aaron Abrecht, were also taken to Meritus Medical Center for treatment of lesser injuries, says Snyder.
Troopers say all four of the victims were part of six-member road crew from the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown who were working on the shoulder of the interstate when the crash occurred. The other two inmates were not hurt.
A correctional officer inside the van who was supervising the inmates was not hurt when the tractor trailer hit it. The truck driver, identified as Frenel Pierre, 53, Columbia, Maryland, was not hurt. He remained at the scene.
Snyder says there was also a second traffic crash nearby. “An unrelated dump truck and trailer combination had jackknifed into the median to avoid the first incident,” he said. “The initial tractor trailer also sustained damage to its fuel tanks which required HAZMAT teams to respond to the scene.”
The westbound lanes of I-70 in that area, and a few of the eastbound lanes, were closed while State Police conducted their investigation, and crews removed the damaged vehicles.
State Police say a second corrections van arrived on the scene, and secured the inmates who were not injured.
In a statement, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary, Stephen Moyer, says all safety precautions were in place. He calls the incident a tragedy for the inmates and their loved ones, and a “sad day” for the department, according to an Associated Press report.
The State Police CRash Team says the investigation into this incident is continuing. .. Upon its completion, the report will be presented to the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office for review and consultation regarding charges.
By Kevin McManus