UPDATE: 22-Year-Old Man Succumbs to Injuries from Crash on Trinity Church Road

Update: ALLENS FRESH, Md. The driver at fault in this crash, Matthew Robert Eppley, 22, of Charlotte Hall, MD, was pronounced deceased yesterday afternoon as a result of the injuries he sustained in the crash. The woman who was driving the Pacifica is still being treated at a hospital.

ALLENS FRESH, Md. - On December 16 at 10:23 a.m., officers responded to a motor vehicle crash involving three cars on Trinity Church Road north of Old Sycamore Road in Allens Fresh, MD. A preliminary investigation revealed the driver of a Ford Mustang was following a Chevrolet Silverado which was traveling north on Trinity Church Road. The initial investigation revealed the driver of the Mustang attempted to pass the Silverado on a stretch of roadway marked by double-yellow lines, a no passing-zone, near the crest of a hill. The driver swerved to avoid striking a Chrysler Pacifica, which was southbound on Trinity Church Road, and struck the Silverado, sending it into a spin. The Mustang re-entered the southbound lane and struck the Pacifica head-on. The driver of the Mustang was trapped and the vehicle caught fire. Cpl. Stephen Miller, an off-duty Charles County Sheriff’s officer, was nearby and used a fire extinguisher to suppress the fire in an effort to protect the driver until emergency fire crews arrived. The driver of the Mustang, a 22-year-old male of Charlotte Hall, was extricated from his vehicle and flown to a hospital in critical condition. The driver of the Pacifica, a 36-year-old woman from Mechanicsville, suffered critical injuries. The driver of the Silverado, a 35-year-old male from Waldorf suffered injuries which are not life threatening. Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to call Cpl. T. Hemsley of the Traffic Operations Unit at (301) 609-5903. The investigation is ongoing.

ALLENS FRESH, Md. -Two former Mechanicsville Volunteer Firefighters fought to save a young man trapped in a burning car this morning in Charlotte Hall.

The accident happened at 10:26 am on Trinity Church Road. Casey Sheckels, 34, of Mechanicsville, and his friend David Harding were riding in a vehicle together when they spotted the accident. "We started coming up the hill on Trinity Church and David said, there's fire up there.'"

As luck would have it, both Sheckels and Harding are former members of the Mechanicsville VFD. When they spotted the three-car accident, they immediately, jumped out to offer assistance. Casey says two other drivers did the same.

That's when the father-of-four said his first responder training kicked in. "You learn to go for the worst vehicle first and help the person most in need.   I could see the truck was upright and not damaged. So, I went to the SUV. The woman said she couldn't move  or get out of car. The steering wheel had her pinned.  She was alert and talking, so I told a bystander to stay with her."

The Charles County Sheriff's Office says the accident happened when the 22-year-old driver of a Ford Mustang attempted to pass a truck in a no-passing zone and hit the truck before crashing head on into a SUV.

Incredibly, the driver of the truck turned out to be Casey's cousin. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured, even though his vehicle rolled and landed in an upright position.

The driver of the Mustang. was not so lucky. "He had a very faint pulse. He was breathing but severely pinned into the vehicle. The dashboard was where the backseat was." The severely damaged car was on fire. Casey said the flames were getting intense.

Unable to reach the young man in the driver's seat due to the condition of the vehicle, a bystander busted the passenger seat window out with a tire iron and Casey climbed inside to attempt to render aid. When he realized how close the flames were to the victim, he called for water. "The flames were four or five feet high."

That's when the two men, assisted by bystander Paul Brady and two nearby homeowners formed a bucket brigade. They ran back and forth from a nearby home throwing water on the engine in an attempt to keep the fire away from the trapped passenger.

"That worked for awhile, but they started coming underneath the dash. Two sheriff's deputies arrived with fire extinguishers. We used those as much as we could. We did everything we could to keep the fire away from him.  We did the best that we could. I kept talking to him and I prayed at the same time."

According to the CCSO, off-duty officer Cpl. Stephen Miller was one of the officers with a fire extinguisher. 

Shortly afterward, the fire department showed up and got the flames under control. They extricated the driver from the vehicle and transported him to a hospital. Both the driver of the Mustang and the SUV sustained critical injuries. 

Casey said, "I've seen it all. knowing and seeing what I've seen. Tt's never something you can be prepared for when you get there. To see someone in desperate need. and even though I had the training, I couldn't do anything for him because he was stuck in the car. Thankfully, we had enough men there to make a 300 yard dash to a house with buckets until the fire department arrived."

The former first responder commended local police and fire for their work on the scene. "The fire department, EMS, and the police did an amazing job. Everybody's responsiveness and training was top-notch. Tt's good that a community can know that they are in good hands."

Casey said he texted his mother from the scene to let her know his cousin had been in an accident but was okay. "Mom texted me, 'God puts you in these places for a reason.' All I can do is pray and hope he makes it. That all of them are safe."

The Charles County Sheriff's Office says the accident is still under investigation. Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to call Cpl. T. Hemsley of the Traffic Operations Unit at (301) 609-5903.

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