Questions on a Fatal Accident

Three people killed in a four-vehicle crash Thursday evening on U.S. 15 between U.S. 340 and Mountville Road have been identified.

Robert S. Stegner, 49, and his son, Sean M. Stegner, 14, both of Clifton, Va., and Jennifer M. Adel Carter, 27, of Point of Rocks, were killed in the crash, according to Maryland State Police.

A preliminary investigation conducted by police found that a Cadillac SUV, driven by Carter, was heading north on U.S. 15, when it struck the left rear of a Honda Element also traveling north, driven by Kevin R. Strauss, 38, of Columbia.

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The collision caused Carter’s SUV to cross into the southbound lane of U.S. 15, where it struck the Chrysler minivan driven by Robert Stegner head on, and then sideswiped a Chevrolet pickup truck driven by James L. Cornett, Jr., 40, of Point of Rocks.

Carter was not wearing a safety belt, but Robert and Sean Stegner, and the other drivers involved in the accident were wearing theirs, police said.

Strauss and Cornett were not injured in the crash.

Just before the crash, at least one call was placed to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, reporting a Cadillac SUV passing vehicles on the shoulder of U.S. 15, north of Point of Rocks.

Tragic and preventable.

Ms. Carter has a long history of irresponsible use of a motor vehicle, a history that had she been male would have landed her in prison for a long period of time.

— On May 5, 2000, Jennifer Maria Adel Carter was charged with driving while intoxicated, under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of the two. She was also charged with violating a license restriction. Both charges were dismissed in 2001.

— On March 21, 2002, Carter was charged with speeding, driving on a revoked license and refusing to sign a traffic citation.

— On Oct. 27, 2003, Carter was charged with driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, violating a license restriction, failure to yield and other offenses. In February 2004, she pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and violating a license restriction.

— On Nov. 10, 2003, Carter was charged with attempting to drive a vehicle under the influence. She pleaded guilty and received a sentence of two years and 350 days, two years and 242 days of which were suspended.

— On Nov. 28, 2004, Carter was charged with possession of marijuana, driving while impaired by alcohol, driving on a suspended license and other offenses. In June 2005, she pleaded guilty to DWI and driving on a suspended license. In October 2005, she was sentenced to one year in prison.

— On Aug. 25, 2007, Carter was charged with first-degree escape, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of $20,000 and 10 years in prison. A jury trial had been scheduled for April. Frederick Police Department Lt. Kevin V. Grubb said the charge can relate to escape from a courtroom or prison.

Somehow, she managed to retain registration to the vehicle in her name and Progressive provided her with insurance.

At this juncture there is a lot we don’t know. Like why the judge who gave her nearly three years in 2003 suspended most of the sentence. Or why the judge in 2004 didn’t send her to jail for the remainder of the suspended sentence. From the records it appears that the 2007 arrest warrant is related to the October 2005 sentence as there are no charges filed between the two incidents, if so, one wonders why at least one and maybe two years lapsed before an arrest warrant was issued and why Frederick County sheriffs seem to have been unable to locate her.

What we do know is that laws that could have kept us safe, or at least safer, were not rigorously applied.

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