Stephen Wright, president of the Route 40 Republican Club and a candidate for Harford County Executive in this fall’s election, was killed in a single-car crash on Wheel Road in Bel Air Thursday evening, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
Wright, 50, of Churchville, was the sole occupant of a 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee which struck a utility pole along the 500 block of Wheel Road in Bel Air, according to Harford County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Monica Worrell.
A preliminary investigation by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit determined that Wright’s vehicle was traveling southbound on Wheel Road at “a normal rate of speed,” when it went off the right shoulder of the road and struck the pole.
The vehicle’s driver and passenger side airbags deployed, according to the Sheriff’s Office, but “there were no indications the driver was wearing a seatbelt.”
A 911 call was received at 6:53 p.m., Worrell said, and witnesses began CPR on the scene. Wright was transported from the scene to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center at approximately 7:30 p.m., where he was pronounced dead.
According to police, witnesses at the scene of the accident said Wright, who suffered from diabetes, appeared to be having “possible medical issues” and said he was not speeding or swerving to avoid anything in the road.
On his Facebook page, “Wright for Harford County Executive,” Wright wrote, “I will be attending the Harford County Right to Life Meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m., at the Abingdon Public Library located at 2510 Tollgate Road, Abingdon, MD. I am pro life, because, in particularly, of the uniqueness, sanctity and value of human life.”
It was unclear whether Wright was en route to or from the event. He contacted The Dagger at 6:39 p.m., minutes before the accident, and left a message in which he said he had to “duck into a meeting” at 6:45 p.m.
Traffic was detoured on Wheel Road between Laurel Bush Road and Patterson Mill Road for approximately two hours while repairs were made to the utility pole.
The office of County Executive David Craig was informed of the situation Thursday evening, and issued a statement on Friday morning.
“This is a very sad day for [Wright’s wife] Krista as well as Steve’s daughters Meagan, McKenzie and Katie,” Craig said in the statement. “My wife Melinda and I grieve at the loss of a friend we have known for over 25 years and we extend to Steve’s family our deepest sympathies. They are in our thoughts and prayers.”
Republican Central Committee of Harford County Chairwoman Kim Wagner praised Wright’s dedication to the party.
“I’m absolutely stunned,” Wagner said. “Steve was a very hard worker for the party, he had very strong beliefs and he was a conservative through and through. He was someone who followed through on his beliefs, he’s got a lovely family, I’m going to pray for them tonight.”
County Councilman Dick Slutzky said he had known Wright for more than 25 years.
“I’m sad for Krista, his children and his family,” Slutzky said. “It’s a shock, it’s incredible.”
Viewings are scheduled for Tuesday, May 25 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at McComas Funeral Home on Cokesbury Rd. in Abingdon. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Wednesday, May 26 at 1 p.m. at St. Margaret Catholic Church on Hickory Ave. in Bel Air, with interment at Bel Air Memorial Gardens on Rock Spring Rd. in Bel Air.
Photos courtesy of Jeremy Walker