Negligent Driving Citation Issued In Resort Tragedy

SNOW HILL – The family of an Easton man struck and killed on Coastal Highway in June seeking criminal justice for their deceased son did not get the answer they were hoping for this week when the driver of the vehicle that hit the victim pleaded guilty to a simple negligent driving citation and was fined a total of $140.

Tyler Adams, 21, of Easton, was struck by a Jeep Cherokee driven by 19-year-old Brian Scott of Orwigsburg, Pa. on June 17 as he attempted to cross Coastal Highway and was launched over the front of the vehicle. Adams was transported to PRMC in Salisbury and later transferred to Shock Trauma in Baltimore where he died two days later.

At the time, the collision was treated largely as an unfortunate accident and no charges were ever filed against the driver. Police reports indicate Adams and another man struck by the vehicle, Dale Blankenship, 21, also of Easton, were at fault because they were not in a marked crosswalk as they attempted to cross the highway. Blankenship was issued a citation for pedestrian unsafely crossing in the path of a vehicle, which was the only citation issued to any of those involved.

However, the facts of the case and consistent testimony from several witnesses paint a different picture of the events leading up to the fatal collision. Scott allegedly continued on after the collision and did not stop until pulled over by Ocean City Police. He was required to take an intoximeter test a short time later, the results of which showed he had a breath-alcohol level of .05, which is below the legal limit for an adult driver in Maryland.

However, the victim’s family contends Scott was just 19 at the time of the accident and any level of alcohol in his system, regardless of how small, should have resulted in some criminal charges. In addition, several witnesses have said Scott was speeding when he ran the red light just prior to hitting Adams and Blankenship and was actually accelerating. An independent inquiry conducted by a private investigation firm hired by Adams’ family also found Scott had alcoholic beverages in his vehicle at the time of the collision.

Despite the facts Scott had been drinking underage and had alcohol in his vehicle, was speeding as he ran a red light and allegedly accelerated through the intersection before hitting the victims and fled the scene before being stopped by the OCPD, no criminal charges were brought against him, not even a traffic citation.

The victim’s family, frustrated and outraged by the lack of criminal charges against the individual who struck and ultimately killed their son, last week filed a civil suit seeking $1.75 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Scott.

Adams’ parents, Holly Davis and Daniel Shoemaker, said they filed the civil suit last week as a measure of last resort after repeated efforts to have police and prosecutors take a closer look at the facts of the case and at least consider some sort of criminal charges against Scott.

State’s Attorney Joel Todd told Davis and Shoemaker in a letter he would consider presenting the evidence to a grand jury to decide what if any charges should be brought against Scott. Todd was scheduled to meet with the victim’s parents last Friday, but it is uncertain if that meeting took place.

What is certain, however, is that Scott on Monday was formally charged with negligent driving and pleaded guilty to the charge although he was not required to appear in court. The private investigators handling the case for the victim’s family said yesterday the citation was conveyed to Scott in Pennsylvania on Monday and he pleaded guilty and submitted the $140 fine.

Negligent driving in Maryland is a misdemeanor, which carries no minimum mandatory jail time and a fine not to exceed $500. Negligent driving is defined as “operating a motor vehicle in a careless or imprudent manner that endangers any property or the life or person of any individual.”

The private investigators from OC Investigations said yesterday the family is outraged by the apparent slap on the wrist for Scott and have vowed to continue to press for more criminal charges in addition to the civil suit they filed last week.

Neither Davis or Shoemaker could be reached for comment, nor was Todd available for comment on the case.