Driver recalls crash with embattled Md. council member.

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Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) (Mark Gail/For The Washington Post)

Prince George’s County paid nearly $7,000 to the owner of a sport-utility vehicle that Council member Mel Franklin rear-ended in 2012 while driving a county-issued SUV.

Gerardo Loredo said he was heading home to New Jersey when the GMC Yukon he was driving was struck from behind by Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) on the Capital Beltway. The impact injured Loredo’s brother and propelled the vehicle about 30 feet forward, crunching its frame.

It was the second of at least three collisions involving county-issued vehicles driven by Franklin over the past four years, county records show.

The most recent incident was Nov. 21, when Franklin was charged with driving under the influence after his vehicle smashed into the rear of a sedan with two people inside and the second-term lawmaker tested above the legal alcohol limit.

Franklin has declined repeated requests this week to discuss any of the collisions.

In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday, Loredo said that he, his brother and his son were headed north on I-495 around 7 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2012, when Franklin’s vehicle collided with theirs.

Loredo said he was unnerved when he realized the car that hit his was a government vehicle. He said that Franklin initially identified himself as a police officer, said not to worry and that he would call 911.

Franklin denied Loredo’s recollection through his attorney, Theresa Moore. “Mr. Franklin never indicated he was a police officer,” Moore said in an emailed statement. He “called 911, waited for officers to arrive and the matter was handled as any other minor motor vehicle accident.”

Loredo said he did not tell police officers who responded to the collision that Franklin had introduced himself as a member of their ranks.

“I wasn’t thinking about that,” he said. “I was focused on getting to my brother, who they took to the hospital, and going home.”

He said he did share the detail with his brother-in-law, Oscar Menes, who was the owner of the GMC Yukon Loredo was driving. Menes confirmed Loredo’s account in an interview.

Menes said the damage to the 11-year-old Yukon could not be repaired. Three months after the collision, the county sent him a check for $6,800 — the Kelly Blue Book value of the vehicle.

 “It was a nightmare,” Menes said. “I had no idea what was going on, and I kept calling my insurance to check. I sent them the crash report that showed the other guy was at fault.”

The SUV Franklin was driving was also totaled. It cost the county more than $33,000 to replace.

Franklin was not cited for any violations in connection with the collision, according to the report filed by Prince George’s County police officers. Police spokeswoman Jennifer Donelan said Friday that such decisions are left to the reporting officer’s discretion.

The difficulty with accidents is that without an independent witness, they can be hard to prosecute,” Donelan said.

The officer who wrote the report told officials this week that he does not recall the crash, Donelan said, and did not know he was dealing with a council member.

Via Washington PostCewlqwEXIAA-xKw

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