Woman Was By Trunk When Official Hit Back Of Car, Police Say

By Jon Jeter and Robert E. Pierre
Washington Post Staff Writers

Wednesday, January 11, 1995 ; Page B01

Prince George's County police said yesterday that the woman killed Dec. 29 in the accident involving a high-ranking county official was standing behind her stalled car, rather than in front, when the official's car plowed into the back of her vehicle.

Investigators initially believed that Brian T. Flood, the chief spokesman for County Executive Wayne K. Curry, drove his county-owned vehicle into the rear of the stalled car while Evelyn Manning, 51, of Bladensburg, was tinkering with the battery underneath the hood, making her less visible to oncoming traffic.

When the first officers arrived at the scene, the fatally injured woman was pinned underneath the car, and the two witnesses at the scene provided conflicting accounts of where she was standing when the impact occurred, said Capt. James Terracciano, a police spokesman.

But an accident reconstructionist examined both cars and Manning's injuries. He concluded that Manning had been searching for something in the trunk of her car when she was struck from behind, Terracciano said in response to an inquiry from The Washington Post. A second witness corroborated that account, he said.

Witnesses who provided police with the tag number of Flood's car said he continued northbound on Landover Road after the crash, according to police. Authorities have charged Flood, 35, with driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated and four traffic violations, all misdemeanors. A county grand jury could decide as early as next week whether Flood also should face a charge of manslaughter.

A Breathalyzer test given to Flood nearly 10 hours after the accident revealed his blood alcohol level was 0.11, just above the legal limit of 0.10 in Maryland, police said. A bartender at a Landover hotel subsequently told police that he served alcohol to Flood on the night of the crash, according to law enforcement sources. Curry suspended Flood after the accident.

Flood's attorney, Leonard Stamm, has denied that alcohol was a factor in the crash and has said Flood did not begin drinking until after the accident, which occurred about 10:45 on a weeknight.

"I am extremely concerned that a confidential police investigation is being leaked piecemeal to the press so as to maximize prejudicial pretrial publicity and make it difficult, if not impossible, for Mr. Flood to receive a fair trial," Stamm said yesterday.

Terracciano said Flood's car was difficult to locate, even though witnesses provided a tag number, because it was registered to Prince George's County government. A clerk had to go to an office in Upper Marlboro and examine records. The car was registered to an official in the county executive's office, but when police contacted the employee by telephone, she said the car had been given to Flood, Terracciano said.

By the time police knocked on Flood's door in Hyattsville, it was nearly 5:30 a.m. After he provided a statement to detectives, Flood was arrested. The Breathalyzer was administered shortly after 8 a.m., court documents show.

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