[ Supporting Documents: Investigation Into Death of Buhrman Kenneth Baird (Yogi) ]
Investigation into Death of 'Yogi' Baird Continues
By Guy Leonard, guyleonard@countytimes.net
HOLLYWOOD, Md. (January 27, 2011) -- Officials with the Maryland State Police say the investigation into a state trooper who drove into and killed an 87-year-old pedestrian in Hollywood last week could take weeks, but once completed it will be turned over to the state’s attorney’s office to see whether charges are merited against Wesley Goldston, 33, assigned to the Automobile Safety Enforcement Division.

Greg Shipley, spokesman for the agency, said that speed still does not appear to be a factor in the collision that killed Buhrman K. “Yogi” Baird the night of Jan. 19 as he was walking along Mervell Dean Road with his lawn mower.

In the aftermath of the tragic death of the man many community residents came to see as a local fixture, they have both privately and openly questioned the nature of what transpired that night.

A state police report states that Baird was struck while he was walking south in the southbound travel lane of Mervell Dean Road.

But two witnesses, one who talked to investigators and another who talked to The County Times, said they saw Baird minutes before the collision on Beck Road, which is south of where he was struck.

Others in the community have also questioned why police say Baird was in the travel portion of the road when he was known to be cautious in using the shoulder on his many walks from his home on Old Hollywood Road to destinations as far away as California.

They also have questions about the trooper’s exact speed that night.

Police stated that Goldston tried to swerve to avoid hitting Baird but was unable to. Citizens questioning the crash details question whether the damage to the vehicle and scars left on the asphalt jibe with what police have said about the collision.

“I personally question how appropriate it is for the State Police to investigate an accident involving one of their own,” said David Ryan of Hollywood, an acquaintance of Baird.

Ryan said many who knew Baird are questioning the preliminary official report released by police the night of the collision.

“A visit to the accident scene will clearly show the roadway is ramrod straight for over a quarter of a mile and is probably the best lighted section of roadway in St. Mary’s County due to the five pole-mounted lights on private property on the northbound side,” Ryan said in a letter to The County Times. “The scars in the asphalt, probably made by the lawnmower wedged under the vehicle, show the point of impact and where the vehicle came to a stop. Those marks are not in the middle of the road and the distance, over 200 feet, seems much longer than the possible stopping distance in a 40 mph speed zone.”

In response to lingering questions from the community about the exact details of the crash, Shipley told The County Times: “All of those issues are being examined … I understand the concerns of residents and we’re cognizant of them.”

“No one feels worse than the trooper involved,” he added.

Baird was often seen walking during the daylight hours but Lt. Mike Thompson, commander of the Leonardtown barrack said that information investigators gathered showed that Baird had changed his pattern in the last six to eight weeks before his death, walking later during the day and returning at night, though why he did so was unknown.

Thompson also said that the lack of skid marks from the collision was attributable to the anti-lock brakes on the Jeep Laredo Goldston drove that night.

Thompson also said that crash investigators did not mark off the path of the vehicle using paint on the roadway, as is common in some investigations, because state police used advanced global positioning system software to mark the route.