- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A Charles County jury convicted a Fort Washington man on Tuesday of two counts of vehicular manslaughter for causing the death of two Maryland State Highway Administration contractors in 2010, the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office reported.
On Oct. 21, 2010, Marlon Lorenzo and Erick Alvarado were working for an SHA contractor cutting grass and collecting trash in the median of Berry Road just east of the intersection with Bensville Road in Waldorf. The two men along with one of their co-workers were walking in the median when a 2004 Volkswagen SUV operated by Yuri Marie-Francois Vielot Jr., who was 24 at the time of the crash, veered from the westbound lanes of Berry Road onto the median, collided with a sign and then ran into the victims, throwing them toward the opposing lanes of travel.
Witnesses to the collision reported seeing an explosion, flying debris and two bodies landing in the roadway. Both men were pronounced dead on the scene. Their co-worker, Leonel Berganza, was knocked to the ground, but survived the crash.
Berganza testified during the trial, giving his account of the crash, describing it as a day he will never forget, the day he lost his best friends, the state’s attorney’s office reported. One witness reported seeing the defendant’s vehicle swerving back and forth into her lane for approximately half a mile to a mile prior to the SUV leaving the road and striking Lorenzo and Alvarado.
After the crash, Vielot was interviewed by members of the Maryland State Police. He stated that he had worked all night, had only gotten two hours of sleep, and was returning from Waldorf to Fort Washington to bring his fiancée lunch when he fell asleep behind the wheel.
Charles County Assistant State’s Attorney Francis Granados pointed out that Vielot was driving after only getting two hours of sleep in the 18½ hours prior to the crash.
“These two men would still be here if this defendant had remembered how dangerous of an activity that driving a car is,” State’s Attorney Anthony B. Covington (D) said in a news release announcing the verdict. “I hope everyone understands that as a driver you must take responsibility for being in the right condition to drive. If you aren’t and you hurt somebody you will be held accountable. Though we all too often take it for granted because we do it so often, driving a 2,000 pound machine is a very dangerous and risky activity. If you are driving, don’t drink, don’t drug, don’t text, don’t race and don’t speed. And, for goodness sake, make sure you’ve had enough rest before you get behind the wheel. All of these things are very simple. If the defendant had properly rested, he wouldn’t be facing jail time and the two families of these dead men wouldn’t be heart broken. At sentencing we certainly will be asking the court to give the defendant plenty of time in jail so he can reflect on that.”
The jury deliberated for just over an hour before returning guilty verdicts on both counts.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 7 before Circuit Court Judge Amy J. Bragunier.
Vielot faces up to 20 years in jail.