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Queenstown man sentenced to 21 years in prison for manslaughter

Police: Baby found inside car near crime scene
Posted at 4:11 PM, Dec 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-04 16:11:54-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A 29-year-old has been sentenced to 21 years in prison for one count of negligent manslaughter in the death of Laurel Zeiler and two counts of second degree assault.

According to officials, in March 2018, Christopher Dillehunt was driving a Ford Taurus with a passenger, Tammy Lawson on U.S. Route 50 when he exited onto Buschs Frontage Road. Dillehunt was traveling more than 70 mph on the road and crossed over the yellow line to pass a slower moving vehicle.

While driving eastbound in the westbound lane, he struck a Toyota Camry driven by the victim, Laurel Zeiler. Zeiler's daughter, Cynthia Lynn Whittington was also in the car. After colliding with the victim's car, Dillehunt's car began to rotate in a counterclockwise direction while continuing to travel in an eastbound direction when it slid sideways into a Ford F-150 pick-up truck, which was traveling west in the westbound lane. The Ford F-150 was driven by Kathi Ridgley with Aaron Catterton as a passenger.

Ms. Zeiler was transported to University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore where she later succumbed to her injuries. Ms. Ridgley sustained life-altering injuries.

During the investigation, Anne Arundel County police officers learned that prior to the crash Dillehunt and his passenger had been using heroin. Shortly after the collision, medical units arrived on the scene and administered two doses of Naloxone, a medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdose, to Dillehunt because he was unconscious and not breathing.

He was then arrested and charged after the investigation was concluded. Dillehunt pleaded guilty to the charges on August 29, 2019.