Cumberland Times-News

Local News

May 4, 2010

Three killed in I-68 crash

Only survivor climbed steep embankment to find help near interstate’s 52 mile marker

CUMBERLAND — Excessive speed and lack of use of seatbelts were cited as factors in a fatal accident near Rocky Gap State Park that killed three people and severely injured a fourth person who alerted authorities to the crash along Interstate 68 at the 52 mile marker, Maryland State Police said.

Rachel Ankrom, 18, the lone survivor of the accident, was reportedly sitting on the guardrail at about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday when a state highway worker observed her and contacted state police. She was flown to the hospital a short time later by the Maryland State Police Medevac helicopter.

“Troopers arrived before the ambulance and administered first aid before she was flown to the hospital,” said  Capt. James Pyles, Maryland State Police Western Region commander. Troopers then located John Butcher, 46, Dawn Brechenridge, 46, and Mark Veltre, 21, all of whom were found deceased.

Preliminary investigation showed the vehicle, a 2008 Ford Mustang, carrying the four occupants was traveling eastbound when it left the roadway for unknown reasons. The vehicle then became airborne for 100 feet and then came to rest 200 feet over the embankment, Pyles said.

All four victims were from Fayette City, Penn.

The victims were ejected from the vehicle, which was badly damaged and has been placed in storage.

The crash remains under investigation by Tfc. Justin Buskirk and state police accident reconstruction specialists.

Police are not yet certain what time the mishap occurred. “Preliminary investigation shows the engine block of the crashed vehicle was cold when troopers arrived,” said Pyles.

The incident closed the eastbound lanes of the interstate for several hours until the vehicle was removed. One eastbound lane was opened to traffic by early Tuesday afternoon.

Numerous fire and ambulance units responded to the scene along with the Maryland State Police Crash Team to assist with the investigation.

The I-68 crash was the second triple-fatal accident to occur in Allegany County in the last seven months. On Oct. 21, Mount Savage residents Mandy Leigh May, 31, her 11-year-old son Thadius Duckworth, and Tana Lynn Davis, 31, were fatally injured in a head-on collision on U.S. Route 40 in LaVale, just east of the former Continental Inn and Restaurant. Fifty-nine-year-old Leon Brashears of Frostburg, suffered serious injuries in the accident when his 2004 Suzuki SUV was struck by the 2005 Hyundai Elantra operated by May and also occupied by her son and Davis.

Maryland State Police determined the primary cause of the Route 40 crash was failure of the driver (May) to drive right of center and that she was impaired by the use of drugs. Speed was not found to be a contributing factor in the crash. The investigation included autopsies by the Maryland State Medical Examiner’s Office, police said.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at jlalderton@times-news.com.

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