Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007

Man charged in fatal hit-and-run crash on Route 29

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Greg Dohler⁄The Gazette
Officials investigate at the scene of a fatal crash on Route 29 in Burtonsville. Police said the driver of a van (right) crashed into a crew of highway workers, killing one and injuring four. The van’s driver turned himself in to police on Tuesday.
The driver of a van that crashed into a construction site on northbound Route 29 in Burtonsville on Monday, killing one and injuring four, turned himself in to police early Tuesday morning, Montgomery County Police said.

Manuel De Jesus Gonzalez-Geronimo, 31, of the 1900 block of Ruatan Street in Hyattsville, contacted Prince George’s County Police at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. He was turned over to Montgomery County police and charged with failure to immediately return and remain at the scene of a collision involving death, failure to immediately stop a vehicle at the scene of a collision involving bodily injury and driving without a license, police said. He is being held at the Montgomery County Detention Center on $150,000 bond, police said. He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon in Rockville, Montgomery County police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said.

Gonzalez-Geronimo was driving a white Ford Econoline 150 work van on northbound Route 29 in the 15600 block of Columbia Pike near Sandy Spring Road (Route 198) just after 1 p.m. when it struck a large trailer-truck containing traffic barrels and cones on the shoulder, police said. The van bounced off the trailer-truck and smashed into a guardrail, hitting the five construction workers, police said. The trailer-truck hit a smaller pickup truck nearby.

Because of the early-morning arrest, police were still gathering information as to what caused the van to strike the trailer-truck, where Gonzalez-Geronimo was going, if he owned the van, how he left the scene and his whereabouts between the time of the accident and turning himself in, Baur said.

‘‘This arrest was made overnight and there are still many details we don’t have access to,” she said.

The five construction workers were part of a seven-man crew with PDI-Sheetz Construction Corp., a subcontractor for the State Highway Administration based south of Baltimore.

Martin Ruffin, 30, of Baltimore was pronounced dead at the scene. James Cronin, 37, of Glen Burnie was flown to shock the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He was in critical condition with life-threatening injuries, police said.

Hugo Perez, 28, and Rafael Ramos, 30, both of Columbia, were flown to the Trauma Center at Washington Hospital Center. Jose Padillo, 35, of Glen Burnie was taken to the Trauma Center at Prince George’s Hospital Center. All three are expected to survive, police said.

The crew was resting along the guardrail before performing work on the bridge over the Patuxent River, which marks the line between Montgomery and Howard counties, according to the SHA.

The crash shut down all lanes of Route 29 between the Howard County line and Route 198 for much of Monday afternoon. Northbound Route 29 was closed until about midnight Monday, Baur said, as dozens of police officers investigated the scene. Southbound Route 29 reopened by 6 p.m.

Police are investigating if there were passengers in the van with Gonzalez-Geronimo, Baur said. Blood believed to be Gonzalez-Geronimo’s was found in the van, though police had not been informed Tuesday morning if he had any injuries, Baur said.

More than a dozen police and fire and rescue vehicles surrounded the scene Monday afternoon. A police helicopter made multiple landings on northbound Route 29 just inside the Howard County line.

The back of the nearby trailer-truck was crumpled, some of its traffic barrels and cones scattered in the street and a light signal attached to its hitch overturned. The pickup truck farther up the road also appeared to have sustained damage to the back of its bed.