P.G. Official Arrested In Fatal Crash
By Jon Jeter and Robert E. Pierre
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, December 31, 1994 ; Page B01
The chief spokesman for Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry was charged yesterday with driving while intoxicated and several traffic violations in a hit-and-run accident Thursday night that killed a 51-year-old woman.
County police say Brian T. Flood, 35, of Hyattsville, was driving a county vehicle when he plowed into the rear of a car that was stalled in the middle of a six-lane thoroughfare in Cheverly. The collision fatally injured Evelyn Manning, a Bladensburg resident and county employee who was tinkering with the battery underneath the car's raised hood.
Flood failed to stop after the accident at 10:45 p.m., according to police, and continued driving north on Landover Road. Two witnesses, both pedestrians, gave investigators the license plate number of a county-owned car issued to Flood, who was arrested at home about 5 a.m. He was released on his own recognizance.
Police charged Flood with driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol. A Breathalyzer examination revealed that his blood alcohol level was 0.11 when the test was administered nearly seven hours after the accident, according to court documents. The legal limit in Maryland is 0.10.
Flood's attorney, Leonard Stamm, said alcohol was not a factor in the accident.
"I have not had an opportunity to review all of the evidence, but I am confident that the evidence will show that Mr. Flood didn't have anything to drink before the accident," Stamm said.
Stamm said that his client was "extremely upset" about the charges but that he was confident Flood would be "vindicated" when all the evidence was reviewed.
Flood also was charged with failure to stop at the scene of an accident, failure to remain at the scene of an accident, failure to render reasonable assistance and failure to furnish driver's license information. All of the charges are misdemeanors, but prosecutors could widen the case if they conclude that Flood was criminally responsible for Manning's death.
Just two weeks ago, Curry appointed Flood director of public relations, a senior position in the county executive's new administration. Flood's annual salary was set at $68,500; yesterday Curry suspended him without pay pending the criminal investigation.
Called at home at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday for a comment on a separate story, Flood told a reporter that he had called in sick for work and that he wanted to get antibiotics for his cold.
However, Royce Holloway, a police spokesman, said Flood had been on his way home after a late evening spent at his office in the county's administration building in Upper Marlboro.
Manning, who worked as a custodian at the county courthouse in Upper Marlboro, also was on her way home from work when her 11-year-old Oldsmobile stalled on a darkened but bustling stretch of Landover Road.
County officials visited Manning's family yesterday to express their condolences, and Curry expressed his sympathy in a short statement.
"This is a terrible tragedy for all of us and we are all saddened by the circumstances of this accident," the statement said. "Our prayers are with the Manning family as well as Mr. Flood and his family. Obviously, we will do all we can to assist the family of Ms. Manning."
Standing outside the Bladensburg garden apartment that Manning shared with her fiance, her friends and relatives yesterday described her as a hard-working, fun-loving, churchgoing woman who was devoted to her four grown children and doted on her 21 grandchildren.
Manning's fiance, Daniel Fortune Jr., said the couple had planned to marry in March, after having dated for five years.
Manning's oldest daughter, Shirley Jones, said her death seemed cruelly incongruous with her life.
"How could he not stop?" said Jones, responding to the allegations against Flood.
"She was such a beautiful woman. I just wish he had owned up to what he was doing, turned around and helped or something. When you're wrong, you're wrong," said Jones, shaking her head and clutching a Bible and a teddy bear.
Holloway said it is unclear whether the driver realized Manning had been hit.
The emergency lights of Manning's car were blinking when the accident occurred, but witnesses said the lights were dim, Holloway said. And because the car that struck her was approaching from the rear, it is possible that Manning was hidden from view as she was standing underneath the hood.
Police believe that Manning was killed instantly when she was knocked to the ground and that her car rolled over her, Holloway said. Police impounded the county car issued to Flood, a 1990 Pontiac 6000, which received extensive front-end damage.
Manning initially was assigned to the police department's headquarters in Palmer Park, and police officers yesterday described her as a kind and gentle person.
Glenda Wilson, a senior adviser to Curry and a former community liaison for the police department, recalled that Manning seemed genuinely happy to see an African American woman hold a position of authority within the department. "She used to always say that she was proud of me," Wilson said.
Since May, Manning had worked the 4 p.m.-tomidnight shift at the county courthouse.
"She was a great employee and a good person," said Dennis Brownlee, director of the county's Central Services Office. Jones, Manning's daughter, said yesterday that her mother had her sights set on a supervisory position with the county and was preparing to study for her high school diploma.
Flood, who is married with one child, is a virtual newcomer to the county's political arena, having joined Curry's campaign as an unpaid volunteer nearly a year ago, Wilson said. Previously, Flood worked as executive director of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, a lobbying organization that represents nearly 5,000 federal prosecutors. Before that, he served as chief of staff to former representative Craig T. James (R-Fla.) and press secretary to former congressional delegate Ben Blaz (R-Guam).
In September, Flood was ticketed for reckless driving and speeding in separate incidents in Virginia, according to records of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. He has not been ticketed for any traffic violations in Maryland, according to public records of the last three years.
While Manning's death left her friends and relatives searching for answers, anger seemed the last thing on anyone's mind.
"What does it matter?" said Fortune, Manning's fiance, kicking a mound of dirt in front of the apartment where the couple lived. "She's gone; she ain't coming back. Nothing else really matters."
Staff writer Retha Hill contributed to this report.
Articles appear as they were originally printed in The Washington Post and may not include subsequent corrections.