OCEAN CITY — Questions swirled this week around the city manager’s accident in a city-owned vehicle and a requisite drug and alcohol screening that came back clear.
City Manager David Recor was driving west on Route 50 in his city vehicle — a 2014 Chevy Tahoe — when he struck a road sign pole near Golf Course Road around 7:30 a.m. on Friday, July 10. Recor, who said he was on his way to Wawa for his morning coffee, did not immediately stop at the scene of the collision and instead turned around at the intersection of Routes 50 and 611 before returning to remove the downed sign from the highway. He rejected eyewitness accounts that he fled the scene, but admitted he did not stop initially at the site of the collision.
“After hitting the road sign, in order to return to the location safely, I made a U-turn at the very next intersection at Route 50 and Route 611. I immediately returned directly to the location and removed the broken sign from the roadway,” Recor said.
The accident was witnessed by an off-duty Ocean City police officer, who relayed the tag number of the vehicle to the dispatch center. Significant damage to the front of the vehicle, including a broken headlight and a cracked windshield, occurred.
After removing the sign from Route 50, Recor said he received a call from Ocean City Communications inquiring if he had been in an accident and that a Maryland State Police trooper was on his way. Recor said he met with that trooper before heading to City Hall and informing city Risk Manager Eric Lagstrom of the damage to his city-owned Tahoe. Later, around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, the investigating trooper came to City Hall to serve Recor with a traffic citation.
Lagstrom told Recor he would have to take a drug and alcohol test as is consistent with city policy in these situations when city-owned property is involved.
Recor did not immediately comply, according to sources and went about his daily business. Council President Lloyd Martin and Police Commission Chairman and Councilman Doug Cymek were immediately informed of the situation. Recor said he followed city protocol and disputed earlier reports that he refused to take the test when requested.
Recor waited until the end of business on Friday to take the alcohol and drug test. Recor said Wednesday afternoon the test results came back negative and explained he was busy interviewing candidates for the vacant Planning and Zoning Department director post on Friday.
“Contrary to what has been ‘reported,’ I did not refuse to comply with the Town’s post-accident Alcohol and Drug Screening Policy,” said Recor. “In addition, contrary to what has been ‘reported,’ I was not ordered or threatened with disciplinary action to comply with the testing procedure, rather, the Director of Human Resources and I proceeded to complete scheduled interviews with candidates for the Director of Planning and Zoning position lasting into the afternoon.”
Recor, 48, was charged by Maryland State Police with negligent driving vehicle in careless and imprudent manner endangering property, life and person. The charge carries a fine of $140. Recor notified the Mayor and Council via email of the incident on Friday afternoon, according to sources.
Recor shared that email Wednesday afternoon. In the email, Recor admitted to being at fault in the accident and attributed it to a “deteriorating vision/depth perception.”
“I wanted to let the Mayor and Council know that I hit a State Highway Administration road sign this morning approaching the intersection of Route 50 and Golf Course Road while driving my City vehicle. No other parties involved. There is damage to the left side bumper, headlight cover and scrape above the left fender and cracked windshield from the sign,” Recor wrote. “I met with State Trooper Dick at the scene to give him my statement. I reported the incident to Risk Management when I arrived at City Hall. Please note that I am complying with the Town’s standard practice of Post-Accident Testing for both Breath Alcohol and Drugs which will be completed before close of business today. I thought it was important that the Mayor and Council receive this information directly from me and not by way of ‘word on the street.’”
Many within the city questioned why Recor was allowed to delay the drug and alcohol screening in the first place. It has been confirmed normal practice is for the employee to take the screening immediately upon being instructed.
The Town of Ocean City Maryland Employee Handbook clearly states, “refusing to cooperate in or submit to questioning, medical or physical tests or examination, or an inspection or search, when requested or conducted by the Town or its designee” will be considered “a violation” and “considered a major offense, which in the Town’s judgement, may result in probation, suspension subject to discharge or discharge…”
Additionally, the handbook stipulates the town can test for alcohol and drugs under numerous circumstances, one of which is “following a safety infraction or work-related accident that does or might cause bodily injury or damage to property in the Town’s judgment.”
Recor, who was taking photos at the collision scene Thursday morning, believes he acted according to the city’s policy and views the matter as complete. At some point, the Mayor and Council are expected to review the matter and as a group has not discussed it as of Thursday morning. However, it was announced Thursday morning the Mayor and City Council will convene for a closed session at 11 a.m. to discuss “personnel matters.”
“I complied with the Town’s post-accident screening procedure and, contrary to what has been ‘reported,’ I am not aware of any pending ‘investigation’ by either the Maryland State Police or the Town of Ocean City,” said Recor. “I hold the responsibilities of my position as city manager in the highest regard and do not expect special favors or treatment because of my position. I expect to be held accountable for my actions just like any other law abiding citizen. I am human. I make mistakes. I hit a road sign while driving a Town vehicle. It was an accident. Unfortunate, but an accident nonetheless.”
A Maryland State Police report has not been released to the media. An employee at the Berlin barrack said the responding trooper was in training the early part of the week and was catching up on paperwork from Friday, including this incident.
This is not the first time Recor has damaged his city vehicle. Most recently, in mid-June, approximately $1,500 in repairs were necessary after a gasoline can toppled over inside his vehicle. While in the city shop for those repairs, he asked for his windows to be tinted as well. That work was completed.
Recor, an International City/County Management Association credentialed manager since 2007, was hired by the city in June 2012, by a 4-3 vote of the council, after former City Manager Dennis Dare, now a current councilman, was terminated by the City Council at that time. Recor came to the city from Fort Pierce, Fla. after a nationwide search.