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Maryland train engineer charged in death of star high school football player

A Maryland train operator has been charged in connection with a horrific crash that killed a star high school football player last year.

Tavon Smith was charged with negligent manslaughter, criminal negligence and reckless endangerment in the death of Lamar Patterson, 17, on Feb. 2, 2022, news station WJZ reported.

Charging documents obtained by the station alleged that Smith caused Patterson’s death by operating the locomotive “in a grossly negligent manner.”

Patterson was driving to St. Francis Academy in Baltimore heading west on Maple Road in Linthicum when his car was struck by an MTA Light Rail train traveling east, killing him.

Investigators initially said that Patterson failed to stop at the rail crossing, even though the gates were lowering, the signals were flashing and the train was sounding its horn.

On Feb. 2, 2022, an MTA Light Rail train struck a Honda Accord operated by star high school football player Lamar Patterson, killing him.

Lamar Patterson, 17.
Patterson, 17, was on his way to St. Francis Academy in Baltimore, where he was a standout junior wide receiver.

But when police later reviewed surveillance footage, they saw that the rail crossing’s arms were not down at the time of the crash.

Smith “did recklessly engage in conduct that created a substantial risk of death and serious injury” to Patterson,” according to the court filing.

The 17-year-old athlete was a standout junior wide receiver at St. Francis Academy, where he transferred in his freshman year to join the private school’s renowned football program.

Patterson's mangled Honda Accord is pictured by the train tracks on Feb. 2, 2022.
Police initially said Patterson crossed the tracks after ignoring warning signs, but video later showed that the crossing’s arms were not down at the time.

An MTA Light Rail train is seen at the site of the fatal collision in Linthicum, Maryland.
Engineer Tavon Smith has been accused of operating the train “in a grossly negligent manner.”

Patterson reportedly had scholarship offers from many Division I schools, including Arizona State, West Virginia and Boston College.

University of Maryland Football Coach Michael Locksley mourned Patterson’s death in a tweet last year, describing the teen as “a bright and talented young man with so much life ahead of him.”

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