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I-70 arrest signals illegal street racing's return

The fast, the furious & the potentially fatal
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Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-27 18:30:04-05
Once a hotbed of illegal street racing, a crowd gathered at the I-70 Park and Ride in Woodlawn at 2 a.m. Saturday. Maryland State Police ordered the crowd to go home to no avail.
 
"An hour later, the same trooper goes back to find that these high-performance vehicles returned to the location and they were actually setting up for a race at this time," said Elena Russo of the Maryland State Police.
 
The trooper arrested 42-year-old Keith Parker of Pasadena who was allegedly playing a key role in the contest.
 
"He had a flashlight in his hand,” said Russo. “He looked like he was at the start line actually directing traffic."
 
The same westbound straightaway on I-70 set the stage for a similar incident in June of 2009.
 
Jonathan Henderson, 20, of La Plata and his girlfriend, 21-year-old Mary-Kathryn Abernathy of Columbia died when a car lost control and struck the two spectators.
 
Just a year earlier, a motorist had struck and killed eight people who had gathered to watch a race on Route 210 in Prince George's County, and as far back as 2000, Baltimore's Wabash Avenue set the scene for a car to speed through a red light in mid-race injuring five.
 
The following year a 56-year-old woman unknowingly pulled her car out into the path of a race and died when one of the vehicles crashed into her.
 
Does the prospect of drivers imitating the art of such movie franchises as "The Fast and the Furious" worry police?
 
Of course. Especially when a quick glance at Keith Parker's Facebook page suggests his interest in illegal drag races didn't begin with the weekend contest that got him busted. 
 
"Our troopers will continue to monitor this area for this behavior, because certainly it puts a lot of people's lives in danger and I don't think the people who are participating or even spectating realize the fatal consequence," said Russo.
 
In the aftermath of the double fatal on I-70 more than seven years ago, the State Highway Administration eliminated one westbound lane and added warning signs, obstructive poles and reflective barriers to try to prevent further racing in the area.
 
It now appears they may have to do more to prevent the fast, the furious and the potentially fatal practice of illegal street racing.