Soon after the sudden string of brake lights, a large cloud of dust mushroomed into the air above a relatively clear stretch of Interstate 95 Monday morning.
Shortly after 9 a.m., a Loomis armored truck had veered off the highway just south of the I-195 exits for Catonsville and the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and overturned.
Within seconds, drivers of other vehicles headed north on the interstate had jumped out of their vehicles and run up to the truck.
With the tires still spinning on the upside-down truck, a door was pried open and two men scrambled out, obviously shaken.
One man, who state police identified as passenger Woldeab Gebeyehu, 44, of Alexandria, Va., had a gun in his hand.
The other man, who police identified as driver Charles Cavanaugh, 38, of Fredericksburg, Va., said his chest hurt and lay on the ground.
After holstering his gun, Gebeyehu ran around the back of the truck then stopped in his tracks.
Numerous clear plastic bags filled with stacks of cash or quarters were strewn across the highway and the grass embankment where the truck had come to rest.
Loose quarters littered the roadway.
Gebeyehu, who was eventually taken to St. Agnes Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, rushed into the grass, picked up a bag of cash and carried it back to the truck’s rear, the door of which had come unhinged and was laying on the highway’s shoulder.
“Where’d that guy go?” he said, referring to the driver of another vehicle he thought had apparently contributed to the accident.
“Can you call 911?” he said, holding his left arm up in apparent pain.
State police said a preliminary investigation indicated the accident was caused when Carl Shilling Jr., 44, of East Greenbush, N.Y., attempted to merge his 2008 Chevy Pickup truck and the trailer it was pulling from a center lane into the lane in which the Loomis truck was traveling.
The two trucks hit each other, and the Loomis truck overturned, police said.
Shilling was not injured, police said.
Many witnesses to the crash had called 911, according to a 911 dispatcher, and police and medical teams responded to the scene.
Zainul Jallow, a Columbia resident who said he had been behind the accident when it occurred, walked over to Cavanaugh, still on the ground, and removed his gun and holster, handing it to Gebeyehu.
“I took the gun off him because I didn’t want it to discharge,” said Jallow, who said he had been on his way to work in Baltimore.
On the other side of the truck, Shannon Larabee, the driver of another vehicle behind the accident, knelt on the road next to Cavanaugh, holding his head and asking him about his pain.
Larabee, a Bethesda resident, said she was on her way to pick up a friend at the airport.
With stethoscope in hand, she said she was an EMT and had worked on an ambulance crew for years before starting her current job at the National Institutes of Health.
As emergency responders approached Larabee and Cavanaugh, Larabee offered the information she had.
“He’s having chest pains,” she said. “He’s diabetic and took his medicine this morning.”
After being relieved of her position, Larabee talked to a reporter on the scene.
“So long as you have a patient talking to you, you know you have an airway and breathing, which are the first two things to check for,” she said.
Then, “I just wanted to make sure he was all right until the EMS did get here and I could kind of pass him off.”
Cavanaugh was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma in serious condition, police said.
Larabee said her friend at the airport “will understand” why she was late.
As medical responders took care of Cavanaugh and Gebeyehu, police began talking to witnesses about what they had seen and to each other about securing the money.
Traffic continued to back up on both sides of I-95.
Three northbound lanes were blocked by emergency vehicles while the far right lane and shoulder were covered in quarters.
A police officer on a megaphone ordered drivers who had pulled over on the left side of the southbound lanes to get in their cars and leave.
“Stop taking pictures,” the officer told them.
Danny Pack, risk manager for Loomis, said the company’s “greatest concern is always the health and safety of our employees.”
The company has “taken care of” the money that was spilled on the roadside, with the help of Maryland State Police and is awaiting a report on the crash from state police and on medical updates on its two employees, Pack said.
He said it “would be irresponsible to say anything other than that at this point.”
The company will conduct its own internal investigation of the incident, Pack said.
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