BERLIN – The brother of a teenager struck and killed by a Maryland State Trooper on Route 113 continues to seek justice seven years after the accident.
Tyheim Bowen, whose 16-year-old brother Tymeir Dennis was killed when he was struck by Maryland State Police Trooper Nicholas Hager in 2013, has started an online petition to have the case reopened. Though a jury found both parties negligent in a 2017 trial, Bowen continues to believe Hager should be held responsible for the death of Dennis.
“He got to go home to his family,” Bowen said. “We had to bury my brother.”
As of Tuesday, more than 2,800 people had signed Bowen’s change.org petition calling for the reopening of the case filed against the state by Bowen’s family in the wake of the fatal accident. The case was closed after a jury found both parties negligent in 2017 and no damages were awarded.
“We certainly recognize the pain and suffering endured by the family and friends of all the individuals involved in this tragic incident,” MSP spokesperson Elena Russo said this week. “A thorough investigation was conducted and reviewed by the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office. All legal proceedings have concluded and we are not aware of any grounds for reopening the case.”
Bowen, who now lives in Millsboro, said he thinks about his brother every day.
“I just want justice for my brother,” he said. “The cop basically got off.”
On Nov. 8, 2013, Bowen, who was then 17, and Dennis, 16, were crossing Route 113 near its intersection with Bay Street when they were hit by Hager, who was in an unmarked police cruiser. Dennis was killed and Bowen was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma, where his right leg was amputated. Hager, who returned to duty four days later, was not charged.
The boys’ family filed a lawsuit in 2015 and in 2017 a jury decided that both parties were negligent. Bowen remains frustrated about the trial. He’s convinced that it shouldn’t have been held locally and that camera footage, which wasn’t available, would have shown what really happened that night.
“We were pretty much in the grass,” he said.
Bowen started the petition last week after the family’s lawyer in the matter told him it was essentially impossible to get the case reopened.
“I don’t think it’s impossible,” he said.
When asked why started his efforts to reopen the case now, Bowen said he knew more now.
“Honestly when we went to court the first time I was involved in the case but I didn’t know all I needed to,” he said.
Bowen still believes the trooper should have been punished as a result of the accident.
“Say you hit us — I don’t think you’d get away with it if you were a regular person,” he said.
In a 2014 interview with The Dispatch, Lt. Earl Starner of the MSP Berlin barrack explained that the agency’s crash team spent months investigating the accident and concluded that Hager should not face traffic or criminal charges. While he was exceeding the speed limit — which at the time was 50 mph — by driving at 57 mph, Starner said that was not determined to be a factor in the accident.
Pedestrian safety improvements were made to the intersection in the months following the accident, however, and the speed limit on that stretch of Route 113 was lowered.
As for Bowen, he says he’s adjusted well to losing his leg — he’s now a competitive powerlifter — but continues to mourn his brother. He is grateful for the outpouring of support he’s received as the petition seeking justice for Dennis has been shared online.
“I’m very thankful for everybody that signed it,” he said. “It means a lot to me, my brother and my family.”
When the accident happened, Bowen said the family felt as if no one supported them.
“People thought we were gangbangers,” he said. “It hurt then to see people trying to make us out as people we wasn’t. We’ve got more support now than when it happened.”
He’s planning to share the petition with local and state leaders to show the amount of interest in seeing the case reopened. Bowen acknowledged, however, that even if he was successful it wouldn’t bring his brother back.
“If we can’t get it back open, it is what it is,” he said. “I’m going to continue living for him.”