Drunk driver convicted in Waldorf crash where baby died; prosecutor disappointed in possible sentence

Charles County(Danny Yi)
A Charles County, Maryland, jury convicted a driver who was drunk of multiple offenses in a 2018 Waldorf crash that killed a 3-month-old baby.

While satisfied that the jury found Michael Maurice Ford, 50, of Columbia guilty of grossly negligent manslaughter with a vehicle and negligent homicide by motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, Charles County’s State’s Attorney wants to see tougher penalties for the crimes.

Ford’s trial lasted six days.The maximum penalty he could face when sentenced in the death of Ethan Ruefly in Waldorf is 10 years.

“I am disappointed in the fact that this now convicted baby-killer is only facing 10 years — the maximum for killing someone while driving drunk— for this heinous crime. You can get 20 years for theft in Maryland but only 10 years for extinguishing a life — especially a 3-month-old child’s life. That simply isn’t right. It isn’t just,” Maryland State’s Attorney for Charles County Tony Covington said in a news release.

Covington said he’s disappointed state lawmakers have not increased penalties for drunken driving crimes.

“With this child dying — a life gone before it even begins — I hope it makes everybody understand that there needs to be serious penalties for the taking of a life under drunken driving,” Covington told WTOP.

“It’s almost insult to injury for a family in these situations — where you’ve lost a loved one, and the justice system really doesn’t hold people accountable in a way that not only the families find appropriate, but others as well.”

Ford had blood alcohol concentration level of 0.24 — three times the legal limit in Maryland — when he slammed into the back of the Wrangler that was slowing down behind a Nissan on southbound U.S. 301 at Pierce Road on May 7, 2018.

The force of the impact caused the Wrangler, driven by Ruefly’s mother and also carrying his father, to strike a third vehicle in front of it.

The crash happened just before 4 p.m. that day. Ruefly, who was pale and not breathing after the crash, was taken to Southern Maryland Hospital and then flown to Children’s National Medical. His family took him off life support May 10.

According to police, people who witnessed the accident stopped Ford from fleeing the scene prior officers getting on the scene. Witnesses also told police that Ford attempted to stash away beer cans in his vehicle following the crash.

In addition to grossly negligent manslaughter by vehicle and two counts of negligent homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, Ford was found guilty of two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to remove erroneous information about the crash that killed Ethan Ruefly.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano and Colleen Kelleher contributed to this report.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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