Two drivers involved in a crash on the Baltimore Beltway that killed six highway workers Wednesday afternoon were traveling at a high rate of speed when one car moved into the left-most lane, hit the other vehicle, lost control and flipped into a construction zone, according to video footage obtained by The Banner.
Footage shows both a gray and white car were speeding and virtually in the same lane as the driver of the gray car veered into the path of the other vehicle moments before the collision.
Maryland State Police identified the six workers killed 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.
“Tragically, there are numerous multi-fatality crashes every week, however, this is one of the deadliest crashes in recent years involving highway construction workers,” said Peter Knudson, a public affairs officer with the National Transportation Safety Board.
Twenty-four workers died at road construction sites across the country in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number hovered just below 50 from 2014 to 2018, according to the agency.
In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, eight were killed when they were hit by motorists, an agency spokesperson confirmed.
Five of the workers killed Wednesday were employed by Concrete General, Inc., a Gaithersburg-based contracting business, the company’s owners said in a Thursday afternoon statement.
“Each of these lives brought strength to the CGI Family, knowledge of the tasks and leadership in the industry,” they said. “Their contributions to our team will be missed.”
The two cars involved were a gray 2017 Acura TLX and a 2017 white Volkswagen, Maryland State Police said. They identified the driver of the Acura as 54-year-old Lisa Adrienne Lea, of Randallstown.
Video footage shows that as the Acura veered into the left-most lane, it hit the passenger side of the Volkswagen and swerved in front of the other vehicle before flipping into the work zone in a gap between the jersey barriers.
Lea is in the Maryland Shock Trauma Center receiving treatment for her injuries. She was the sole occupant in the Acura, police said.
Maryland State Police identified the second driver as 20-year-old Melachi Brown, of Windsor Mill. Brown stopped north of the incident and did not report any injuries.
Work at the site was part of a project to widen the pavement on the Baltimore Beltway, rehabilitate the shoulder area, post new signage and improve lighting, all in an effort to reduce congestion on the west and north sides of the highway, said Shanteé Felix, media relations manager for the Maryland State Highway Administration.
State troopers responded to the scene on the inner loop near the Security Boulevard exit around 12:40 p.m. Wednesday. The Baltimore County Fire Department pronounced the six highway workers dead at the scene, police said.
The Maryland State Police Crash Team and NTSB are investigating the fatal collision. Once the investigation concludes, state police will consult with the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine if charges will be filed, authorities said.
Knudson said the federal agency will investigate issues related to speed, construction zone safety and “collision avoidance technology.”
Anyone who witnessed the crash can send an email at email@example.com.
From 2016 to 2020, there were more than 7,000 work-zone related crashes that killed 46 people and injured 3,263, according to statistics from the Maryland Department of Transportation.
MDOT is part of a Federal Highway Administration campaign called National Work Zone Awareness Week, which begins April 17. The campaign aims to educate people about safe driving practices in work zones.
Baltimore Banner reporters Justin Fenton, Ulysses Muñoz and Brenna Smith contributed to this article.
This article was updated to correct the spelling of Lisa Adrienne Lea’s middle name and to clarify that the gray Acura flipped into the work zone in a gap between the jersey barriers.