Driver sentenced to 18 months in work zone crash that killed 6

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Dive Brief:

  • After pleading guilty to six charges of manslaughter in January, one of the drivers in the fatal I-695 crash near Baltimore last year was sentenced to 18 months in prison on March 28, CBS News reported.
  • Melachi Brown, 20, was traveling 121 mph on March 22, 2023, when he clipped Lisa Lea, who was traveling 108 mph, according to court documents. Lea’s car entered a work zone, killing six construction workers. Her trial is scheduled for April.
  • A Baltimore County judge sentenced Brown to 10 years in jail with all but three months suspended for each count. He will then serve probation for three years, during which time he won’t be allowed to drive. The judge’s sentencing aligns with prosecutor recommendations.

Dive Insight:

The six killed in the crash were:

  • Carlos Orlando Villatoro Escobar, 43. 
  • Jose Armando Escobar, 52.
  • Sybil Lee Dimaggio, 46.
  • Rolando Ruiz, 46. 
  • Mahlon Simmons II, 52. 
  • Mahlon Simmons III, 31. 

Following the crash, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore created a task force to come up with safety updates for road work zones. The group reported recommendations in November, CBS reported, to include more state troopers in road work zones and more onsite inspections.

The Associated General Contractors of America found more than half (55%) of surveyed highway contractors reported motor vehicle crashes in their work zones in the last year, in a May report. More often than not, motorists are the ones injured or killed in those collisions, the AGC found.

One jobsite crash recently nabbed headlines, when a teenage driver in Oklahoma allegedly fell asleep while driving and hit three construction workers on March 25. One of the workers, 19-year-old Jacob Matuszczak, died, according to WAFB9, while two others were injured.

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