Maryland State Police are continuing an investigation into the early morning fatal collision involving a passenger vehicle and a parked truck tractor, which occurred on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway (I-495) near Route 5 (Branch Avenue) in Prince George’s County.
The driver, James Poston, 26, of Temple Hills, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The wreck occurred shortly after 4:30 a.m. March 6, when Poston’s Mercury Grand Marquis station wagon went off the roadway for an unknown reason, drove onto the right shoulder and struck the left side of a parked truck tractor.
The truck tractor was parked more than five feet off the roadway, and a series of reflective orange triangles had been set out as a warning to other motorists. The force of the collision moved the truck tractor forward.
After the Mercury struck the side of the truck tractor, it traveled further southbound and struck the metal guardrails on the right side of the roadway. As the Mercury ricocheted away from the right roadside guardrail, Poston, apparently unrestrained by a seatbelt, was thrown from the vehicle.
After being ejected from the Mercury, he landed in the second lane from the right and was struck by at least one passing car. The driver of a striking car stopped and provided investigating troopers with a written statement.
The driverless Mercury continued across all southbound lanes and crashed into the center guardrail where it became engulfed in flames. The operator of the truck tractor was not at the scene, but it is believed that he resides in a neighboring jurisdiction.
Personnel from the State Highway Administration and Prince George’s County Fire Department responded to assist with the incident. Traffic on the inner loop of the Beltway was allowed to proceed past the collision using two lanes within an hour of the crash, and all lanes were reopened shortly after 7:30 a.m.
Poston’s body was removed from the scene and taken to the Office of the State Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.
The investigation is being conducted by troopers from the Forestville Barrack with assistance from the State Police Crash Team and the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division. Preliminarily, investigators are focusing on speed and driver error as contributing factors in this collision. They will provide their findings to the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for review.