Only one more mile and five more minutes and 16-year-old Miranda Marshall would have been safe at Friendly High School in Fort Washington yesterday morning.
Instead, Miranda died, and eight persons, including five of her schoolmates, were hospitalized after a small red 1991 Geo Metro collided almost head-on with a big black four-wheel-drive 1990 GMC Jimmy at 7:41 a.m.
The 6-foot-2 junior varsity basketball player and her friends were eastbound on Old Fort Road in the Geo, which turned across the center line of the two-lane road shaded by trees on either side.
"We are trying to determine why the Geo crossed the center line," said Prince George's County police spokesman Cpl. Tim Estes. "Weather was not a factor."
A 45-year-old man driving the Jimmy veered to the right to avoid the crash, but the right front corners of the vehicles collided and the impact jammed the front of the Geo into the back of the sport-utility vehicle. Also in the Jimmy were the driver's 45-year-old wife and their 8-year-old son.
Police did not say whether any of the victims were wearing seat belts. They didn't know who was driving the Geo, although they said it was not Miranda.
Ambulances transported the injured to Fort Washington Medical Center, Prince George's General Hospital, Southern Maryland Hospital Center and MedStar. The sport-utility vehicle's driver was released yesterday afternoon, but the others were listed in serious to critical condition.
"None of the injuries are life-threatening," Cpl. Estes said, indicating most of the injured could be released today. …