A woman charged in a two-vehicle crash on the Baltimore Beltway that killed six construction workers had five prescription medications and marijuana in her system and was traveling at a speed of 121 mph shortly before the collision, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Baltimore County Assistant State’s Attorney Felise Kelly raised those allegations during a bail review hearing for Lisa Adrienne Lea, who’s charged with manslaughter and related offenses in the crash, which happened at about 12:30 p.m. on March 22 on the inner loop of Interstate 695 near Interstate 70.
Lea has been rapidly changing lanes and weaving in and out of traffic before the crash, the prosecutor said, adding that one of the construction workers was thrown from the work zone into the highway.
“The damage that she caused in this scene is unimaginable,” Kelly said.
The Maryland State Police tried to serve an arrest warrant at two addresses for Lea and spoke with three people. Lea reported that she was in Las Vegas, Kelly said.
District Judge Kathleen C. Murphy later ordered Lea, 54, of Randallstown, to be held without bail, finding that she presented a flight risk and a danger to public safety.
Lea was driving a 2017 Acura TLX when she changed lanes and struck a 2017 Volkswagen sedan, police reported. She was traveling at a speed of 108 mph at the time of impact, prosecutors said. The speed limit is 55 mph.
Lea’s vehicle spun out of control, passed through an opening in concrete barriers that separated the work zone from the inner and outer loops and fatally struck six construction workers, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board. She was taken to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland and treated for injuries.
Police identified the construction workers who died in the crash as: Rolando Ruiz, 46, of Laurel; Carlos Orlando Villatoro Escobar, 43, of Frederick; Jose Armando Escobar, 52, of Frederick; Mahlon Simmons III, 31, of Union Bridge; Mahlon Simmons II, 52, of Union Bridge; and Sybil Lee DiMaggio, 46, of Glen Burnie.
The construction workers were working on a project aimed at reducing congestion on the Baltimore Beltway by fixing shoulders, improving drainage and installing new signage.
A Baltimore Banner analysis found that the crash was among the deadliest in work zones in the United States since 1980.
The driver of the 2017 Volkswagen sedan, Melachi Duane Darnell Brown, 20, of Windsor Mill, is also charged with manslaughter and related offenses. He was driving 122 mph just five seconds before the collision, and 111 mph at the time of impact, prosecutors said.
At Thursday’s hearing, Isaac Klein, Lea’s attorney, asked the judge to release his client on home detention.
“She voluntarily turned herself in,” said Klein, who described the crash as a horrible accident. “She’s not a flight risk, your honor.”
He said his client suffered multiple shoulder fractures and stated that doctors amputated four of her fingers.
Outside the District Court of Maryland in Towson, Klein told reporters that he was a “little surprised” that the judge ordered his client held without bail. Just because people died in the crash, Klein said, does not mean that someone is at fault. He said he would be filing a motion in Baltimore County Circuit Court seeking her release.
Klein said his client feels remorse and keeps the construction workers in her prayers.
Said Klein: “She has to live with this, day in and day out.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that the victims were not all men. One was a woman.