New heavyweight champ thrown from motorcade car; wife injured

Thursday, April 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BALTIMORE (AP) _ A police officer was trying to stop traffic on a busy downtown intersection when a convertible carrying newly crowned heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman was struck as his motorcade left City Hall, police and witnesses said.

Police were escorting Rahman in a red convertible toward the Inner Harbor after a rally when an officer in a cruiser tried to stop traffic at an intersection.

The officer turned on his cars interior flashing lights and drove into the intersection to stop westbound traffic, which had the green light, police spokesman Kevin Enright said.

The officer then got out and stood in the middle of the street and held up his hands to stop oncoming traffic while the convertible carrying Rahman drove into the intersection, where it was broadsided by a Volkswagen, tossing Rahman and his family from the car, Enright said.

A witness told The Washington Post that the officer was only able to block two lanes of the busy five-lane road. The Volkswagen driver was in the far lane and couldn't see the officer, the witness told The Post.

``There was no way (the Volkswagen driver) could have seen that coming,'' said Martin Stucky, who said he watched the crash from the eighth floor of a nearby building.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley told The Post that the Volkswagen driver ``didn't obey the police officer,'' but added ``in retrospect, it would have been great to have barricades across everything.''

No one in the Rahman family was seriously injured in the crash.

Rahman sustained minor cuts on his elbows. His wife, Crystal, sustained cuts and bruises and was fitted for a neck brace before being taken from the scene by ambulance. She was held overnight for observation at Johns Hopkins Hospital, but was expected to be released Thursday.

The last time Baltimore staged a sports-related motorcade, a police car was struck by a bus carrying the Baltimore Ravens before the team left for the Super Bowl in January.

The convertible was driven by Charles Krysiak, 35, the chief of the city's fleet management division, police said.

The Volkswagen's driver, Mike Heisler, told WBAL-AM that he had the green light at the intersection.

``All of a sudden, a red car comes flying through at an amazing speed,'' Heisler said. ``I tried to hit my brakes and I almost made it through without me hitting him, but I hit the back tail and he spun around and that's when he hit the taxi cab. That's when everybody flew out.''

Police said no one had been charged as of Wednesday and their investigation was continuing.

The children were taken to The Johns Hopkins Children's Center and Crystal Rahman to The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Rahman had been honored Wednesday at City Hall for winning the IBF and WBC titles Saturday night in South Africa with a surprise fifth-round knockout of Lennox Lewis.

The revelry for Rahman began in East Baltimore at the dingy gym where he learned how to box when he was 20. Hundreds of neighborhood residents gathered to catch a glimpse of the 28-year-old champ.

Rahman showed up late at City Hall, where O'Malley gave the champ a key to the city before reading a proclamation making it ``Hasim `Rock' Rahman Day'' in Baltimore.

That ceremony took place in a makeshift boxing ring.

``With a tremendous right cross to the jaw, he showed that Baltimore still has the ability to knock the stuffing out of the British,'' O'Malley said.

Rahman thanked the city where his career began.

``This is Baltimore's day. We all did this together,'' he said. ``I remembered Baltimore the whole time I was there.''