College Park jogging death inspires radio show

Victim’s brother serves as advocate for victims of negligent driving

Thursday, Sept. 7, 2006

Two months after his brother was hit by a car and killed on Route 193 in College Park, Spencer Kobren did what he knows best: He went to the airwaves, serving as an advocate for those who have lost loved ones in traffic accidents.

Alan Kobren, 45, was jogging when he was hit and killed near the shoulder of Route 193 on June 17. Alan Kobren was in College Park helping his wife, Janet Firth, a longtime College Park landlord, work on her properties.

Spencer Kobren, a Los Angeles-based radio show host of ‘‘The Bald Truth,” said he was confused and angered when Prince George’s County Police did not take action against the 20-year-old woman who hit his brother in June.

Police said the woman has cooperated with investigators, and without a witness to the accident, no legal action can be taken against her. While the Kobrens are offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the woman, Spencer Kobren was tired of ‘‘sitting on my hands.”

Less than two weeks after he pitched a show titled ‘‘Highway Justice” to local station WJFK, Spencer Kobren was on the District airwaves, discussing negligent driving laws and interviewing local residents who have been victims of careless driving.

‘‘I want to provide a much-needed platform for families like mine to come together and talk about their situation ... and to share their information for those who may be new to this,” Spencer Kobren said.

Spencer Kobren plans to pressure Maryland lawmakers to pass cell phone restrictions behind the wheel. ‘‘It’s a fraternity that no one wants to belong to,” he said.

Providing a forum for accident victims and their families, Spencer Kobren said, has also helped him deal with the loss of his brother.

‘‘It is cathartic and a way to cope,” he said. ‘‘It is not just for [Alan Kobren’s] memory, but for other families going through the same thing.”

On the premiere of ‘‘Highway Justice” Aug. 20, Spencer Kobren interviewed Carlene Graham, a Fort Washington native who has metal rods from her ‘‘hip to her ankle” after a car hit her on Indian Head Highway in June 2005. Her 4-year-old daughter, Simia Solomon, was killed by the driver, who was talking on her cell phone, Graham said. The driver was not speeding, she said, so authorities could not even issue a traffic citation. Graham said her family is still pleading for witnesses to come forward.

Raising awareness about negligent driving and giving victims a chance to speak out on the radio show was invaluable during her recovery, Graham said.

‘‘I was real grateful to [be on ‘‘Highway Justice”] because it’s real therapeutic. It’s helping me mentally recover from everything I’ve been through,” she said.

‘‘Highway Justice” can be heard at 10 p.m. Sunday nights on WJFK 106.7.

E-mail Dennis Carter at