News & Reviews News Wire Maryland light rail operator charged in grade-crossing death

Maryland light rail operator charged in grade-crossing death

By Trains Staff | January 27, 2023

17-year-old football standout was killed in February 2022 accident

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LINTHICUM, Md. — The operator of a Maryland Transit Adminstration light rail train has been changed in the death of a 17-year-old killed in a grade crossing accident last February, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Tavon Smith has been charged with negligent manslaughter, criminal negligence, and reckless endangerment, according to court records, in the death of Lamar Patterson, a standout football player at St. Frances Academy killed when his car was struck by the light-rail train at the Maple Road grade crossing in Linthicum. Patterson was trapped in the car for 15 minutes before being extracted by firefighters and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators said the train entered the intersection while the crossing gates were in the process of lowering.

7 thoughts on “Maryland light rail operator charged in grade-crossing death

  1. Seems to me the gates should be down 10-20 seconds before the train enters the crossing to allow for aging of the mechanism of the gate. It should not be only partway down when the train enters the crossing.

  2. Two questioms. Were the crossing gates and lights timed to begin to deploy when the train hit the circuit at track speed and be fully deployed by the time the train is in the crossing? Do the gates RELIABLY function this way?

    If no, is there a special speed limit for all such grade crossings?

  3. It would seem a gate mafunction, not an operator error. I presume the operator was tested for intoxicants and his cell checked.

  4. This is from the Baltimore Sun to give more information on this story since Trains Newswire didn’t.

    Lamar Patterson died Feb. 2, 2022, when his car was struck by a light rail train on his way to school. Tavon Smith has been charged with negligent manslaughter, criminal negligence and reckless endangerment, according to court records.

    Smith, a Cockeysville resident, is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 13. He does not have an attorney listed in court records.

    Patterson, a native of Kissimmee, Florida, who transferred to St. Frances in 2019, was driving a 2003 Honda Accord eastbound on Maple Road around 9 a.m. when the collision occurred, police said.

    The Maryland Transit Administration train struck the passenger side of Patterson’s car. Patterson was trapped for about 15 minutes before being extracted by firefighters. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Police said there were no passengers on the light rail train other than the conductor, who was uninjured.

    At the time, police said they were investigating a failure to obey traffic control devices by Patterson, who didn’t stop at the intersection as the gates were lowering. After reviewing video footage of the crash, investigators said the train had “entered the intersection while the roadway gates were in the process of lowering.”

    Witnesses told police the train’s horn sounded before approaching the roadway. There were overhead alternate flashing red lights in both directions of Maple Road and flashing train signals facing each direction that were visible, police said.

    Although the overhead alternating warning lights were functioning properly at the time of the crash, the roadway was not completely blocked by the gates when the crash occurred,” police said at the time.

    Patterson was a junior wide receiver and cornerback described as a “shining star.” In mid-February, he was honored at a vigil in Northeast Baltimore attended by more than 150 people.

    The fatal crash reignited long-running debates about safety around light rail crossings that date back to their construction in the early 1990s.

    The Linthicum light rail crossing near the intersection of Maple Road West and Camp Meade Road where Patterson died had been deemed a “high priority” target for replacement for nearly 20 years, according to an Anne Arundel land-use document.

    In the wake of the football player’s death, residents pointed to the Anne Arundel County Small Area Plan published in 2003 that recommended the crossing be replaced so cars and trains wouldn’t cross paths.

    1. Based on everything in that article(from the Baltimore Sun) if everything the police stated is included as evidence I don’t see how any judge would let the case go to trial. I don’t even see why the DA is pushing the charges, it’s clearly not the Light Rail operators fault, there’s some negligence on the driver of the vehicle(notice he’s probably a “star athelete”), the main focus on the blame should be with the Maryland Transit Administration and Anne Arundel County.

  5. Limited info. Are these automatic gates? Does train have right of way through the intersection and depend on the gates automatically lowering? This article doesn’t give enough to understand what happened.

    I’m at a loss here. There have been accidents on Boston MBTA light rail attributed to the operator. This is, apparently, a different case.

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