Family recalls Tawney at vigil
Hit-and-run suspect to stand trial next month
More than 100 friends and family members gathered in Edgemere last week for a candlelight vigil to remember Keith Tawney on the first anniversary of his being struck and killed by a hit-andrun driver.
Keith, then 23 and a 2011 graduate of Sparrows Point High School, was found dead on North Point Boulevard at Cove Road in the early morning hours of Aug. 23, 2016.
He was reportedly walking in the southbound travel lane of North Point Boulevard when he was struck by a vehicle traveling in that lane. The vehicle left the scene. Police responding to reports of a body in the street found Keith, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
“This vigil shows how much he was loved,” said Keith’s mother, Denise Tawney-Cohill.”How much he’s been missed. It’s a peaceful remembrance of Keith, who was taken away too soon.”
A suspect was arrested and charged as the driver of the vehicle which hit Keith. Daniel E. Lawrence, 30, of the 400 block of Riverside Drive is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 12 in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Lawrence is charged with failure to stop his vehicle at the scene of an accident resulting in an injury; failure to immediately return and remain at the scene of an accident; and failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in a death.
The trial was originally postponed from June 6.
Tawney-Cohill said she has been advised of two possible plea bargains, but told prosecutors she wanted the case to go to trial. She is hoping for a guilty verdict and a maximum sentence, which can be up to 10 years.
“As a human being, I understand accidents happen,” she said. “But how can you just leave someone lying in the road like that? And not call 9-1-1?”
Lawrence’s arrest came with the help of a tipster who remains anonymous.
“I’ll never forget that day,” Tawney-Cohill said. “My front window was open, and I saw a piece of paper ducttaped to my mailbox, flapping in the wind. It was a note.”
The hand-written note stated: “The vehicle that hit your son is at 401 Stemmers Run Road 21221. White GMC Yukon. His name is Danny. I hope this helps your family.”
Tawney-Cohill said she contacted the police, who told her they had received the same tip. She then went to the address herself to investigate.
She saw a white GMC Yukon. “The hood was removed, and the right front panel was gone.”
After further police investigation, Lawrence, was indicted on Dec. 12 and taken into custody on Dec. 19. He was subsequently released on $100,000 bail.
Prior to Lawrence’s arrest, friends and family of Keith had raised $3,000 as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. That was in addition to a $2,000 reward offered by Metro Crime Stoppers.
But the person who wrote the note has remained anonymous.
“My family and I would like to thank the person who left the note,” Denise said.
According to court documents, the police investigation checked videos taken by the security cameras of businesses along that stretch of North Point Boulevard during the time Keith was struck, between midnight and 1 a.m.
One video reportedly shows the vehicle driving down the road with two working headlights. Another video, filmed minutes later, reportedly shows the vehicle making a turn onto St. Monica Drive with just one working headlight.
During the candlelight vigil, people gathered in a field behind Tawney-Cohill’s home at dusk.
Pastor Katie Grover spoke about Keith, and invited others to share their memories of him.
“I felt I needed to do this,” Denise said of the vigil. “I didn’t want Keith to be forgotten. He didn’t deserve to be run over like that and left to die in a ditch by himself.”
As part of the vigil, the family and friends prepared three “sky lanterns”: hot-air balloons with memories and messages for Keith written on the sides.
Keith and his family are members of the Knights of the Road Motorcycle Club. The Michigan Chapter of the club has a memorial wall for fallen members, and releases sky lanterns with messages written on them.
At the end of the vigil, Keith’s family and friends released balloons in the air, followed by the three sky lanterns. The balloons and the sky lanterns sailed away into the evening sky, the lanterns’ light forming a triangle in the dark as they climbed into the heavens.
Pastor Katie Grover talks about Keith Tawney to the over 100 friends and family who attended a candlelight vigil for the Edgemere man, killed one year ago by a hit-and-run driver.
Denise Tawney-Cohill and her husband, Mark Cohill, listen as Pastor Katie Grover speaks during the candlelight vigil for Denise’s son, Keith Tawney.
The message on the side of this sky lantern released in memory of Keith Tawney reads: “Always on my mind. Forever in my heart.”
One of the sky lanterns released as a memorial for Keith Tawney is prepared for launch. Over 100 friends and family of keith tawney attended a candlelight vigil on August 23 to remember Keith on the first anniversary of his death.
Balloons released during the vigil for Keith Tawney spread out over the Edgemere sky. Photos of Keith Tawney displayed during the candlelight vigil last week to remember him on the first anniversary of his death.