- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The May 25 letter to your paper by David A. Ryan indicating that the investigation into the death of Buhrman Kenneth Baird “cast a shadow on the Maryland State Police and the St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney’s Office” is without justification.
First, let me state that this office views Mr. Baird’s death as tragic; and without question, his death is a loss to our community. However, that being said, the statements of two independent eyewitnesses cannot be overlooked. If one were to discount everything that the officer says, the statements of the two eyewitnesses cannot be discounted.
One eyewitness stated that Mr. Baird was “ ... walking in the center of the travel lane ...” and that the “... pedestrian was wearing very dark clothing ...”. The witness further stated that when he [the eyewitness] came upon him in the roadway, the witness “felt that he had narrowly missed striking him, and that the maneuver may have only been possible because he [the eyewitness] was operating a small sports car designed for greater than normal handling, the pedestrian was in the center of the travel lane and seemed unphased by almost being struck by a vehicle and the loud horn.”
A second eyewitness stated that she “ ... observed something metal in the lane of the oncoming vehicle.” She went on to state that the oncoming vehicle seemed to be driving “normal speed.” She stated “ ... that the roadway was dark and not very well lit at night.” The witness further noted, “... what she tought was a shopping cart or possibly a bicycle in the center of the southbound lane directly in front of the oncoming lane. She remembered thinking that the driver had to strike it or else drive into her vehicle.” That as the impact occurred her vehicle was adjacent to the other vehicle.
Given the statements of these two witnesses, I can only conclude that had any citizen been confronted wirth this rather sudden set of circumstances, the probability of the same outcome would have been nearly certain.
Whereas I can well feel the pain and sense of loss of our community — and by the way, I might add that I have known Mr. Baird since I was 16 years of age — I cannot as a matter of factual evidence determine on the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this officer was either negligent or grossly negligent as a matter of law.
Again, allow me to state that the loss of Mr. Baird was tragic; but to suggest that either the Maryland State Police or the office of the state’s attorney has not properly investigated or reviewed this matter in regard to the standards of the law is without foundation.
If any citizen desires to review this investigation, I would be more than happy to set up an appointment. This office, as well as the Maryland State Police, consistently dedicate ourselves to serving and protecting our community.
Richard D. Fritz, Leonardtown
The writer is state’s attorney for St. Mary’s County.