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Alcohol suspected in Olney crash that killed 3

Car left road; driver fled scene

- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2011

The Rockville man who crashed his car in Olney over the weekend and then fled the scene with three friends fatally injured inside the vehicle, attended two parties and had been drinking that night, prosecutors said Monday at a bond hearing.

The driver, Kevin B. Coffay, 20, is being held on $500,000 bond and faces five charges related to the accident and his failure to remain at the scene.

Mr. Coffay had "a strong odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from his person" when police found him three hours after the crash early Sunday morning, according to charging documents.

Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said additional charges could come in the following days as the investigation into the crash continues.

Officials said they gave Mr. Coffay a blood alcohol test and are awaiting the results.

Mr. Coffay was driving his 2007 Toyota Corolla east on Olney Laytonsville Road about 3 a.m. when the car left the roadway, striking two trees and a telephone pole. He then eluded a police search until found in front of his parents' home in the 16700 block of Cutlass Drive.

Defense attorney Michael McAuliffe said his client acted as "a panicky young kid" might.

"The kids are all friends," he said. "This affects everyone's family. He didn't do anything callously."

Friends and family members of Mr. Coffay's attended his bond hearing but declined to comment. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison.

The driver and four passengers all had attended Magruder High School.

The three people who died are Spencer Datt, 18, of the 5700 block of Sunrise Hill Road in Derwood; John Hoover, 20, of the 5800 block of Rolling Drive in Rockville; and Haeley N. McGuire, 18, of the 5600 block of Artesian Drive in Rockville. She was scheduled to graduate from the school this spring.

The only other survivor was Charles Anthony Nardella, 19, of the 7700 block of Shady Brook Lane in Gaithersburg. He was sitting in the left rear-passenger seat and was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

Mr. Datt, who sat in the front passenger seat, died at the scene. Mr. Hoover, who was in the center-rear passenger seat, died at Montgomery General Hospital. Ms. McGuire, who sat in the right-rear passenger seat, was taken by helicopter to a local trauma center and died around 6 a.m.

"They all were very good kids, and this is a very big loss," said Principal Leroy Evans. "To lose any kid is tragic."

Grief counselors met with students, and the school held a moment of silence Monday.

The crash occurred during prom and graduation season, the time of year when schools typically worry about underage drinking and driving after events.

Magruder had already held its prom, and Mr. Evans said there were no school-sponsored events Saturday night from which the crash victims would have been coming home.

"It's a tough time of year," Mr. McCarthy, said, adding that he personally knew two of the families who lost children in the crash. "If some good can come of this incident, as we approach prom season and beach week ... it's that we talk to some of our kids."

In Maryland in 2009, there were 21 alcohol- or drug-impaired-driving fatalities and 313 crashes resulting in injury that involved drivers under 21, said Michelle Atwell, program coordinator with the Maryland Highway Safety Office with the State Highway Administration. Three fatalities and 38 of the crashes resulting in injury occurred in Montgomery County.

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