- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2007

The two motorists killed in a grisly rush-hour crash Wednesday evening on the Capital Beltway near Forestville were identified yesterday, as authorities searched for a motorcyclist who they say caused the deadly pileup.

Kevin McCarter, 40, of Fort Washington, and Sidney Clanton of Buffalo, N.Y., died after the green sport utility vehicle in which they were traveling became involved in the seven-vehicle wreck, police said.

Fifteen others, including an officer in pursuit of the motorcycle and an off-duty officer, were injured.

Yesterday morning, police instituted rolling lane closures on both sides of the Beltway near the Ritchie-Marlboro Road exit as the Prince George’s County crash-reconstruction team continued the investigation.

Cpl. Debbi Carlson, a Prince George’s County police spokeswoman, said authorities reopened the Beltway about 90 minutes later after a necessary piece of equipment malfunctioned during the probe.

Authorities will resume the investigation on the Beltway early next week, Cpl. Carlson said.

“The reconstruction will tell us exactly what happened, which vehicle was in what position,” she said.

Police continue to look for a black motorcycle, which fled the scene after the crash.

Cpl. Stephen Pacheco, a police spokesman, would not comment on reports that officers were responding to a felony in progress and were on the lookout for a sportbike — a high-speed, lightweight type of motorcycle.

Cpl. Pacheco said the county has a policy that governs police pursuits, but he would not give details of the policy yesterday.

Sgt. Russell Newell, a state police spokesman, said a statewide policy allows troopers to pursue suspects under certain conditions.

“We take into account the seriousness of the crime, the possibility of a later capture and the possibility of putting others at risk,” he said. “It’s at the officer’s discretion, but you have to weigh the danger against the necessity.”

A dashboard video camera in the police cruiser captured the chase. Police said they are analyzing the camera footage, but have not given any additional information about the motorcycle.

“Some of the guys on these bikes have their license plates [purposely] obscured, or the camera just may not have gotten a good enough image,” Cpl. Carlson said. “So we’re still asking anyone who may have been on the Beltway at that time and seen anything to contact us.”

The incident occurred about 7 p.m. Wednesday when, police said, an officer tried to get into position to stop a speeding motorcycle on the Inner Loop.

The motorcycle rider swerved in front of the SUV carrying Mr. McCarter and Mr. Clanton and sped away, causing the officer’s cruiser to hit the SUV.

The vehicle rolled down an embankment and onto the Outer Loop, where five other vehicles crashed into one another.

One of the five vehicles involved was an off-duty officer on his way home. He was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and was in serious condition yesterday, Cpl. Carlson said.

The officer who pursued the motorcycle was treated and released, she said. He has been placed on routine administrative leave. Neither of the officers has been identified.

None of the other injuries suffered was life-threatening, Cpl. Carlson said.

The accident and rescue effort shut down the Beltway for hours in both directions and brought traffic to a standstill for miles.

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