BSU Freshman Dies in Car Crash
Third Student Death In Auto Accident in Four Years
By Bekah Oester
Bowie State University freshman Gilbert Williams, 18, of Upper Marlboro, died Feb. 7 in a fatal car crash on Church Road in Bowie, authorities said.
According to a police report, Williams was driving on Church Road at 10 a.m. when he lost control of his Volkswagen Jetta, crossing over the double-yellow line and colliding head-on with a Cadillac DeVille containing three female passengers who were hospitalized. Officials reported that speed played a role in the accident.
Footage of the accident showed that the crash was so severe that the makes and models of both vehicles could not be immediately identified. Authorities said all passengers had to be cut out of their vehicles using hydraulic tools.
Bowie city and county officials have previously identified this particular section of Church Road as one that desperately needs improvements. While some improvements have been made with the establishment of the Church Road Task Force in 2005, other sections remain in poor condition.
According to Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Artie Travis, Williams intended to major in fine arts. At his memorial service Feb. 12, a memorial resolution signed by BSU president Dr. Mickey Burnim was read in his honor.
Friends remember Williams, a member of the Symphony of Soul marching band, for his love of music and sense of humor among many things. BSU freshman Sterling Chew, 18, said, "He was a chill guy...he loved music...he used to play his music in his car in the parking lot, always free styling to different beats...Gil was all ‘bout his music."
Duval High School student Michael Giles, 18, was a friend of Williams' and said, "He was always extremely dependable and never let me down...He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. He was multitalented and a creative young man. He was a large influence on me."
Two groups have been established on Facebook in Williams' honor. Over 150 people have joined so far, posting comments such as "Wow I can't believe I jus saw u 4 the last time....Gil I'm going 2 miss u like crazy..." and "WE TALKED 2 WEEKS AGO...AND NOW UR NOT HERE...I KEEP ASKIN WHY....BUT I KNOW IT WAS YOUR TIME MAN"
BSU Police Chief Earnest Waiters responded to the situation by holding a traffic safety meeting in the Theodore McKeldin Gymnasium on Feb. 19. Waiters invited a group of university stakeholders and County Police Traffic Officers to discuss ways to address the problem of unsafe driving habits. In a statement announcing the meeting, Waiters said, "Since my appointment as Police Chief four years ago, we have tragically loss three students in traffic accidents leaving or returning to our campus community. This is three too many! We must do more to educate our students about safe driving habits." Waiters is also looking into implementing an Annual Traffic Safety Campaign to educate students about safe driving.