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  • Writer's pictureScott Shellenberger

Two drivers charged with felony manslaughter in Baltimore Beltway crash that killed six workers

By Cassidy Jensen | The Baltimore Sun • June 6, 2023 | Original Source

The two drivers in the Baltimore Beltway crash that killed six construction workers were indicted Monday on charges including negligent manslaughter.

Melachi Duane Darnell Brown, 20, was driving a Volkswagen Jetta when he collided with an Acura TLX in a construction zone on I-695 on March 22. The Acura then entered the work zone through a gap in the jersey barriers, striking the workers at about 12:40 p.m. The Acura’s 54-year-old driver, Lisa Adrienne Lea, was also indicted Monday, but police are still searching for her, according to Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.

Brown was arrested by Maryland State Police on Monday and is being held at the Baltimore County Detention, Shellenberger said in a news release Tuesday. A bail review is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Both Lea and Brown face charges of felony vehicular negligent manslaughter and death of a vulnerable person in each of the six deaths. Lea, who faces a total of 28 counts, was also charged with aggressive driving and driving while impaired. Lea was impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, according to the indictment.

Both drivers were “reportedly traveling at speeds higher than the posted limit of 55 mph, the regular speed for the beltway and greater than the speed of the adjacent traffic,” according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Lea was seriously injured in the crash and was later released from the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, according to the Maryland State Police, the primary agency in charge of investigating the collision. Brown reported no injuries.

Video footage from a state transportation camera obtained by media outlets after the crash shows a gray Acura trying to merge into the Baltimore Beltway’s leftmost lane and striking a white Volkswagen. The Acura then veers into the work zone. All six workers were pronounced dead at the scene.

Five of the workers who were killed were employees of Concrete General: Rolando Ruiz, 46, of Laurel; Carlos Orlando Villatoro Escobar, 43, and his brother, Jose Armando Escobar, 52, both of Frederick; and Mahlon Simmons III, 31, and his father, Mahlon Simmons II, 52, both of Union Bridge. The sixth was identified as Sybil Lee DiMaggio, a 46-year-old Severna Park resident who worked as an inspector for KCI Technologies.


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