- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Two men were indicted by a Prince George’s County grand jury Tuesday in the deaths of eight spectators of an illegal street race in Accokeek, Md.

Darren Bullock, 22, and 18-year-old Tavon Taylor, both of Waldorf, were charged with eight counts of vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving and street racing in connection with the Feb. 16 crash on Route 210. Six others were injured in the early morning crash.

Investigators talked to roughly 80 witnesses over the past six months and are using footage of the crash from a nearby camera at a Baretta gun factory, said Glenn F. Ivey, the Maryland State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County.

“The Prince George’s police have done a very good job up to this point,” Mr. Ivey said. “The indictments were largely based on those interviews. There was initially some reluctance from some of the witnesses to come forward but they eventually did.”

Mr. Bullock originally said he was on the way home from go-go band practice and not involved in the street racing when he ran into the crowd.

Mr. Taylor was not considered a suspect until relatively late into the investigation.

Authorities say Mr. Bullock plowed into a group of street racing fans along an isolated stretch of Route 210 in his white 1999 Ford Crown Victoria while he and Mr. Taylor were racing each other at about 3 a.m. Authorities said they don’t know whether Mr. Taylor hit anyone.

Only Mr. Taylor turned himself in to authorities Tuesday.

Mr. Bullock was charged earlier with driving with a suspended license.

The defendants will face up to 10 years in jail for each manslaughter charge and additional fines.

The fans had spilled into the road to watch two other cars race off when they were hit from behind. Prosecutors say Mr. Bullock and Mr. Taylor weren’t part of the organized event that the fans had come to watch.

The impact left the bodies of the victims strewn more than 50 feet from the scene of the crash.

Police said the tire smoke and the darkness contributed to the accident. The area of Indian Head Highway where the accident occurred is about 20 miles south of the District, near the line with Charles County and is not illuminated by streetlights. The speed limit on the flat stretch of road is 55 mph.

Prosecutors said the gruesome wreck highlighted an illegal street-racing subculture with deep roots in the area.

“I think there’s an enormous attraction to street racing in southern Maryland that I hadn’t realized was there,” Mr. Ivey said in announcing the indictments.

Mr. Bullock and Mr. Taylor were driving at about 110 mph with their headlights off at the time of the accident, said a county official with knowledge of the investigation. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing a lack of authorization to release those details.

A message seeking comment was left with Mr. Bullock’s attorney. Mr. Ivey’s office said it was unclear whether Mr. Taylor had an attorney yet.

Those killed in the accident were Otis Williams, 35, of Indian Head; Mark Courtney, 33, of Leonardtown; Daryl Wills, 38, of Clinton; Maycol Lopez, 20, of Gaithersburg; Blaine Briscoe, 49, of La Plata; William Gaines, 61, of Nanjemoy; Ervin Gardner, 39, of Oxon Hill; and Milton Pinkney, 41, of La Plata.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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