Police believe a failure to control speed caused a Monday crash that involved four vehicles and claimed the lives of a Solomons couple.
Joan Kocen, 69, and Elliot Kocen, 82, died from injuries sustained in the March 12 crash that occurred shortly after 1 p.m. on Route 2 at C. Jones Road in Sunderland, according to a press release from the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office.
Preliminary investigation by the sheriff’s office’s Patrol Bureau and Crash Reconstruction Team revealed a 2008 Ford Ranger driven by Richard Williams, 61, of Sunderland was stopped in the northbound lane of Route 2 waiting to make a left turn onto C. Jones Road, while Joan Kocen, driving a 2016 Lexus E300, was stopped in the northbound lane behind the Ford, the release states. Elliot Kocen was her passenger.
A 1999 Mack dump truck, fully loaded with gravel, was traveling northbound on Route 2, driven by 21-year-old Tristan Matteson of Prince Frederick and allegedly attempted to swerve around the vehicles stopped ahead in the traffic lane, striking the rear passenger side of the Lexus, according to the release. The collision pushed the Lexus forward and to the left, causing it to clip the rear of Williams’ vehicle and to continue traveling into the southbound lane of Route 2, where it was struck by a southbound 2016 International Stake body truck driven by Jerone Harper, 26, of Laurel.
Elliot Kocen was pronounced dead on the scene. Joan Kocen was transported to CalvertHealth Medical Center, where she died due to her injuries, according to the release. All other drivers involved in the crash refused medical treatment.
Preliminary investigation shows Matteson’s alleged failure to control his speed to avoid a collision contributed to the crash.
According to an emailed statement from the Solomons Civic Association, the Kocens were headed to the airport to pick up Joan’s sister when the crash occurred.
“We are so very sorry to share the terribly shocking news about the tragic death in a car crash of our friends and neighbors, and dear fellow SCA members Joan and Elliot Kocen,” the email states. “Their contributions to our community were many and how we will miss them!”
Former county commissioner Susan Shaw posted about the accident on Facebook: “This is devastating news for anyone and everyone who knew them. ... They loved each other with devotion. I visited their historic home, Rousby Hall at Drum Point, when they held a fundraiser for Patuxent Habitat for Humanity there. They were giving people.”
Shaw said Joan Kocen was an artist who “cared deeply” about Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, and called Elliot “one of the smartest men.”
Following the crash, a petition was started on Change.org urging the Maryland State Department of Transportation to improve the intersection, which the petition states is close to Sunderland Elementary School and has seen a number of “deadly” crashes.
The petition, which had over 1,500 signatures by Tuesday morning, can be found at bit.ly/2parqpz.
The collision is under investigation by Sgt. Thomas Phelps of the Crash Reconstruction Team.
Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 410-535-2800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.