OCEAN CITY — Six days after causing a horrific accident on Coastal Highway that left an 18-month-old girl critically injured and clinging to life, an Ocean Pines man was arrested again late last week on drug possession charges and was observed driving recklessly through town.
On Dec. 16, Andre Kaczynski, 47, plowed his pick-up truck into the back of a vehicle stopped at a traffic light on Coastal Highway at 142nd Street at a high rate of speed. The force of the collision caused the two vehicles to move roughly 100 feet before coming to a stop and Kaczynski’s truck burst into flames. The passenger car, occupied by Ann Marie DelRicco and her 18-month-old daughter, Ava, was crumpled in the collision and emergency responders worked quickly to extricate the two victims from the wreckage.
The child was removed from the vehicle and flown via Maryland State Police helicopter first to the PRMC trauma center in Salisbury. Baby Ava was then flown to Johns Hopkins Shock Trauma were she remained in critical condition late this week. The investigation determined Kaczynski was traveling at a high rate of speed and a search of his vehicle following the collision revealed an undisclosed amount of Phencyclidine (PCP).
After his release from the hospital, Kaczynski was taken into custody and taken to the Public Safety Building under suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. After several sobriety tests, he was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, causing a life-threatening injury to a victim and possession of PCP.
During interviews following the crash, Kaczynski admitted to Ocean City police detectives he was under the influence of PCP at the time of the collision and that he regularly uses PCP. He was later released after posting a $100,000 bond.
Last Wednesday, Ocean City police detectives began a follow-up investigation on Kaczynski and his PCP possession and obtained a search and seizure warrant for his Ocean Pines residence, his vehicle and his person. However, before the search and seizure warrant was executed, around 9:30 a.m. last Thursday, Ocean City Police Detective Jeff Smith was conducting surveillance on Kaczynski and observed the suspect driving a gray pick-up truck in an erratic and dangerous manner.
According to Smith’s report, he observed Kaczynski drive through two steady red traffic signals while speeding and observed him pass a vehicle on the right shoulder of the roadway.
“He was driving in such a manner that I had a hard time keeping him in sight,” said Smith in his report. “I eventually lost sight of Kaczynski because of his aggressive driving and the fact that I was operating a covert vehicle and could not safely keep him in sight.”
Around 6:30 p.m. the same day, Ocean City police detectives located Kaczynski, reportedly on foot, in the area of 100th Street and Coastal Highway and detained him pursuant to the search warrant. Around 7 p.m. last Thursday, Ocean City police detectives, with assistance from the Criminal Investigation Division, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office and Ocean Pines Police, executed the search and seizure warrant on Kaczynski’s Ocean Pines residence and found no one there.
The search turned up a metal smoking device with vegetable matter flakes and a substance believed to be PCP, along with a Natural Light Ice beer can fashioned into a smoking device with suspected marijuana residue on it. The pipe was located in an office area of the residence on a desk with a piece of mail addressed to Kaczynski, while the beer can fashioned as smoking device was found in a rear bedroom the suspect told police was his.
Kaczynski was then arrested again and charged with possession of PCP and possession of marijuana. A preliminary hearing on the latest set of charges has been set for March 21. Somewhat inexplicably, Kaczynski was released again on Tuesday after posting a $25,000 bond.
Meanwhile, Ava continues to show small signs of improvement, and although she is not out of the woods by any stretch, there is reason for optimism, according to family members. On Dec. 22, Ava had stabilized somewhat and on Christmas Eve, she showed signs of improvement and moved her hands and feet for the first time.
On Christmas Day, Ava’s progress continued somewhat as she continued to twitch her hands and feet. Also on Christmas Day, there was a little setback when it was determined her left arm was dislocated and might be fractured. On Monday, Ava opened her eyes for the first time, and on Tuesday, she had an MRI, the results of which were inconclusive.
“Her MRIs were not something we wanted to discuss, at least not the scientific part, but we are not a negative family,” Ava’s aunt Lisa DelRicco told The Dispatch yesterday. “We believe in God’s miracles. She is still here for a reason and she fights every day. I think she just needs more time to heal. She is in God’s hands and we have faith.”
Meanwhile, the outpouring of prayers and well-wishes continued for Ava and the DelRicco family this week. While the family has only asked for prayers and not donations, a benefit fund has been set up for Ava’s continued care and thousands of dollars continued to pour in this week. As of yesterday, the fund had accumulated in excess of $14,000.
For those interested in supporting the cause, PayPal donations can be made to [email protected]. Donations are also being accepted by any PNC Bank to the Supporting Baby Ava account, or George DelRicco, c/o Ron DelRicco, at 8108 Croom Station Rd., Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772.
In addition, a “Candles, Bows and Prayers” service has been set up for next Saturday, Jan. 7, on 142nd Street and Coastal Highway at 7 p.m.