- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2000

A speeding van on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway yesterday recklessly changed lanes, hit the back of a school bus and caused a chain-reaction accident that hurt more than 20 people, many of them District of Columbia children.

The school bus, which was carrying summer camp participants to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, flipped onto its side and skidded onto a shoulder of the parkway after being struck, tossing the children and their guardians inside.

"There were kids on the floor on top of each other and just trying to get out," said Greg Fleishman, a contractor doing work on the roadside who helped pull children from the overturned bus.

"The crying was unbelievable," Mr. Fleishman said. "Just screaming. Everybody was screaming for their mom."

A prison van carrying a convicted murderer to a medical appointment also was involved in the accident, which injured the felon, two corrections officers and a state highway worker.

Twenty-two persons were injured in the crash, which occurred about 9:30 a.m. just north of the Baltimore Beltway near Linthicum, Md. All of the victims were taken to hospitals but most suffered only minor cuts and scrapes.

The driver of the speeding van Tyron A. Hickson, 29, of Baltimore was charged with reckless driving, negligent driving, speed greater than reasonable, unsafe lane change and driving across a dividing space on a divided highway, Maryland State Police said.

No one else was charged in the accident.

Mr. Hickson, who signed the traffic citations and now awaits a court date, was treated and released from North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie, police said. He was driving alone when the crash occurred.

Mr. Hickson was driving a 1995 white Ford van on the ramp from the inner loop of the Baltimore Beltway to go northbound on the parkway, police said. As the van came off the ramp, it shifted lanes and smacked the right rear of the bus.

The bus began to swerve from the impact and then overturned onto the right shoulder of the parkway.

The driver of the prison van and the driver of a 1994 Nissan Sentra Walter E. Bigelow, 42, of Annapolis were traveling behind the bus and swerved to avoid the collision that had just occurred in front of them.

Police said the prison van veered off the left side of the parkway and hit an embankment on the median; the Sentra careened off the right side of the highway, where it hit some trees.

Sixteen persons were on the bus nine children ranging in age from 5 to 8, six chaperones and a driver, according to officials with the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.

The children and chaperones participate in the department's Aqua Day Camp.

No one on the bus appeared to be seriously injured, said Robert Newman, director of the D.C. Recreation Department.

Twelve victims, including eight youths, were released from North Arundel Hospital and St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore. A 6-year-old girl was in good condition at Johns Hopkins' pediatric emergency unit in Baltimore and was expected to be released, hospital officials said.

Kevin Murane, a spokesman for North Arundel Hospital, which treated eight victims ranging in age from 8 to 19, said they suffered mostly cuts and scrapes.

The two corrections officers in the prison van were treated for back and neck injuries and were released. The convict, serving a life sentence for murder, suffered back injuries and was undergoing treatment yesterday.

School bus driver Ophelia McLaney, 52, of Arlington, Va., was listed in good condition at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore.

State highway worker Joyce M. Pulphus, 40, of Laurel was struck while she was spraying pesticides on roadside weeds. She was in serious but stable condition at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Investigators were unsure which vehicle hit Miss Pulphus and were trying to determine if the any other vehicles collided with the bus.

State police shut down a section of the parkway for about three hours to gather evidence, reconstruct the accident and clear the scene of debris.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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