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Posted June 28, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

U.S. 11 crash suspect had prior charge pending

Man had 0.27 percent BAC at time of crash, remains hospitalized

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A Frederick County man had an underage possession of alcohol charge pending in court when police say he caused a crash that killed four members of a family Sunday morning.

A criminal complaint filed Monday in Frederick County General District Court states a preliminary breath test revealed the accused driver, Steven Andrew Boyce, 20, of 221 Hawk Trail, registered a blood alcohol content of 0.27 percent -- more than three times the legal limit.

Boyce remained at Winchester Medical Center on Monday after suffering injuries in a two-vehicle crash that occurred on U.S. 11 at the Interstate 81 interchange in Stephenson, according to state police spokesman Sgt. F.L. Tyler.

Authorities have charged Boyce with involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence and underage possession of alcohol. Police plan to take him to the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, where he will be held without bond upon his release from the hospital, Tyler said Monday. Boyce faces a bond hearing in Frederick County General District Court scheduled for noon today, according to online records.

Police reports indicate Boyce drove a 1985 Chevrolet pickup that struck the rear of a 1994 Jeep Cherokee driven by Amanda Louise Roe, 31, of Stephenson. The collision caused the Jeep's fuel tank to rupture and the vehicle caught fire, Tyler said. The crash claimed the lives of the driver and the three passengers, Mark Kevin Roe, 49, Tyler Kevin Roe, 4, and Caleb Andrew Roe, 11, according to Tyler. The pickup had stopped at a red light in the northbound lane of U.S. 11, Tyler said.

"He told me he was driving and did not pay attention saw the vehicle hit their brakes and he struck the vehicle in the rear," the investigating state trooper, M.C. Germillion, says in the complaint. "The vehicle he struck burst into flames killing 4 people. ... Mr. Boyce speech was slurred his eyes were bloodshot and watery. Odor of alcohol was very strong. His PBT [preliminary breath test] was .27"

Boyce faces an adjudicatory hearing in General District Court on Oct. 18 for a charge of underage possession of alcohol. Authorities charged Boyce with the class 1 misdemeanor April 18 after a Frederick County Sheriff's Office deputy stopped the man driving the same 1985 Chevrolet pickup on Erie Trail shortly after 6 a.m. Winchester attorney Roger Inger represents Boyce on that alcohol-related charge. Court documents state a judge ordered Boyce to complete 50 hours of community service in lieu of paying a $500 fine.

A judge in Frederick County Circuit Court found Boyce guilty on July 20, 2010, of one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and sentenced him to three years in prison, all suspended. The judge ordered Boyce's license suspended for six months, the maximum allowed under state law at the time, revocation of which ended Jan. 20. Boyce on July 21, 2010, pleaded guilty to one count of underage possession of alcohol, and the judge ordered him to pay the maximum fine of $500.

A change in the law that takes effect Friday increases the time the court must suspend a person's license to one year for such a crime.

While authorities have not said at what speed the pickup was traveling before Sunday's collision with the other vehicle, an advocacy group contends both the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee have a design flaw.

The Washington-based Center for Auto Safety, started by Ralph Nader in 1970, continues to petition Chrysler for a recall of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The model poses a greater danger than the Cherokee because of its larger tank located lower than the rear bumper and the filler hose situated below or through the frame rail, according to the center's director, Clarence Ditlow.

"[The fuel tank is] in a hazardous location because it's in the crush zone in the vehicle striking the back of the Jeep," he said. "The Cherokee doesn't have the filler hose problem, and because the tank is smaller the fire is going to be smaller.

"But both of them are bad. I wouldn't want to be in either a Cherokee or a Grand Cherokee that gets hit from behind."

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