Howard Student Killed in Crash on BW Parkway Dreamed of Becoming Dentist

A young woman killed after a suspect slammed into the back of her car on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway dreamed of becoming a dentist and was a student at Howard University.

Brittany Burks, 27, was stopped on the right shoulder of the parkway Monday night when U.S. Park Police say 24-year-old Darnell Bassett of Northeast D.C. slammed into the back of her car.

“We just devastated. She’s my only child,” Burks' mother Kim Swan told NBC affiliate WGRZ.

Burks was from Amherst, New York and moved to the D.C. area to study dentistry at Howard University. 

“We just had so much fun. She'd always say, 'Mama, when you coming back down?'” Swan said.

Burks wrote about her dream of becoming a dentist on her Facebook page, where she said she couldn't imagine doing anything else.

“She was just a real sweet, real good spirit about her,” Swan said.

Police said Monday night's chain of events began when the suspect struck a K9 cruiser on Quarles Street NE and then kept going.

D.C. police officers followed Bassett onto I-295 before calling off the pursuit,  but he continued to flee northbound on 295 into Maryland, Park Police said.

Bassett was driving north on the parkway at the ramp to the Inner Loop of I-495 at a high rate of speed when his vehicle hit Burks' Honda CR-V, Park Police said. The crash happened about 9:15 p.m.

Burks was extricated from the Honda, but died at the scene of the crash.

Bassett was airlifted to a trauma center with serious injuries. Park Police said Wednesday he is in custody.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said Wednesday it was too early in the investigation to speculate whether the pursuit led to the deadly crash.

“It’s very concerning, the information that we have to this point. I don’t want to pre-judge it. So, we’re going to wait until we have all the information before we make a determination,” he said.

Video from Chopper4 showed debris from the two vehicles scattered across the Parkway.

Northbound MD-295 was closed between Riverdale Road and I-495 after the crash. There were significant backups as crews responded to the scene. 

The crash remains under investigation. Park Police are asking anyone who may have seen anything prior to the crash to call their Criminal Investigations tip line at 202-610-8737 or Park Police Communications at 202-610-7500 or email

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