- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prince George’s County police yesterday released the final name on the list of eight persons killed at an illegal street race in Accokeek over the weekend.

The victim was identified as Otis Williams, 35, of Indian Head, Md. Police also officially released the name of Milton Pinkney, 41, of La Plata, Md. Family members confirmed his death Sunday.

The accident occurred Saturday about 3:40 a.m. when a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria plowed into spectators who had stepped into two northbound lanes of Indian Head Highway (Route 210) to see the cars race down the flat, unlighted stretch of road.

Police say the smoke from the cars’ revving engines and squealing tires at the starting line also might shrouded the crowd of spectators from the driver of the Ford. Police say no charges are pending against the driver and that his name will not be released because he is a witness. They also have not said whether the driver had turned on the headlights.

The driver and a passenger are among at least six injured spectators, including two still in serious condition.

County police Cpl. Arvel Lewis confirmed the severely damaged Ford is an Interceptor model, which is built for police departments. However, he said the car was not being used as a police cruiser and that the “driver is not a police officer.”

Police have interviewed witnesses but say they have not found the two racers, who are not directly connected to the accident. It scattered debris for hundreds of yards and is considered one of the worst in recent area history.

Finding the drivers will be a challenge amid the subculture of illegal racing, which often includes drinking and gambling, and is popular throughout the United States, Canada and elsewhere.

Many states and communities have passed laws against street racing and are imposing jail sentences and fines.

The California Office of Traffic Safety recently gave $520,000 to the city of Elk Grove to train police officers to recognize vehicles modified for racing.

In December, officials in Tacoma, Wash., reported a significant decrease in street racing after enacting laws prohibiting people from gathering in no-racing zones during certain hours and making it illegal to watch the races. They said a race had typically attracted crowds of 500 spectators.

In Dallas, participating in such races is a misdemeanor law that can result in a maximum six months in jail and $2,000 in fines. Spectators can be jailed overnight and fined up to $500.

Australia’s parliament in 1996 passed an Illegal Drag Racing Act. Since then, law officers have confiscated 3,381 cars.

Canada lawmakers in December 2006 imposed five laws against street racing, after 35 persons were killed during seven years of street racing in Greater Toronto, including a young passer-by.

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