Months after a deadly crash near a motorcade of U.S. senators in Frederick County, Maryland, prosecutors have closed the case.
No criminal charges will be filed despite evidence distracted driving might have contributed to the incident. Prosecutors said the crash on Jan. 25 was a tragedy but not a crime.
The crash occurred near a ramp connecting Interstate 70 and Interstate 270 in Frederick County. Police stopped highway traffic to allow a motorcade of buses, carrying U.S. senators to a retreat in West Virginia, to pass through.
According to the police report, a dump truck driver carrying more than 66,000 pounds of material failed to stop. His truck crashed into and destroyed an SUV driven by Jacob Jackson, 46, of Gaithersburg.
The report said Jackson’s car was pushed into another truck and exploded in flames. Jackson was killed in the crash. The truck driver and another driver suffered injuries.
"Everything was incinerated,” said Frederick County State Attorney Charlie Smith. “It really looked like a war scene, as if something was bombed."
State police records obtained by the News 4 I-Team showed the driver of the dump truck was suspected was talking a cellphone and possibly distracted. After seven months of investigation, Smith said he has decided not to charge the driver.
Smith said the dump truck driver's cellphone was incinerated in the fire, making it impossible to know if it was in handheld mode. He said there was evidence a brake failure might have contributed to the fatal crash.
"Ordinary negligence, you can sue somebody over that, but that's not a crime,” Smith said. “To take away somebody's freedom, you have to prove gross negligence."
Statements from witnesses questioned the safety of the police motorcade blockade.
“The way they shut down the road way with rolling stops seemed inappropriate,” said one man. “Caused a lot of people to slam brakes."
A woman from South Carolina, who saw the crash, wrote, "Motorcycle police may have been having traffic move over too quickly for all cars coming up to slow down."
The police records said the vehicles nearly collided with a bus in the motorcade itself.
"We have motorcades coming up here frequently,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, if they're not executed correctly, they pose a threat to the travelers who come through Frederick County and those who commute to and from Frederick County."
U.S. Capitol Police would not comment on the state attorney’s decision. The dump truck driver said he wants to move on with his life.