Man Gets 4 Years in Crash That Killed Howard Dental Student

The victim, 27-year-old Brittany Burks, had moved to the D.C. area to study dentistry at Howard University

Brittany Burks
Family photo

A man has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for killing a woman when he slammed his vehicle into hers on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

Darnell E. Bassett, 24, was sentenced Monday, the office of the U.S. Attorney in Maryland said. Bassett had pleaded guilty in September to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old Brittany Burks, of Amherst, New York.

Federal authorities say Bassett, of Washington, D.C., rear-ended Burks' stopped Honda CR-V, which was stopped on the right shoulder of the parkway, while he was being pursued by police June 24.

Burks had moved to the D.C. area from New York to study dentistry at Howard University.

"We just had so much fun," her mother, Kim Swans, recounted through tears. Burks was her only child. "She'd always say, 'Mama, when are you coming back down?'"

A mother is mourning after her only child, 27-year-old Brittany Burks, died in a crash on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Burks moved to the D.C. area from New York to study dentistry at Howard University.

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

Police said the chain of events began when the suspect struck a K9 cruiser on Quarles Street NE in Washington, D.C., 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' vehicle about 9:15 p.m. that night, Park Police said. Burks was extricated from the Honda, but died at the scene of the crash.

Bassett was charged in U.S. District Court because the portion of the parkway in which the crash happened is federal property.

Shomari Stone contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press/NBC Washington
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