A 23-year-old Prince George's County officer died in a car crash while pursuing a suspect on Interstate 95 Monday afternoon, police said.
The officer, whose name was not released Monday afternoon pending notification of family, died of massive head injuries after he was ejected from his police cruiser when it ran off the road just after 1 p.m. Monday afternoon, Chief Mark Magaw said. The officer was pronounced dead at an area hospital.
A second officer in the cruiser, a one-year veteran of the force, was in the hospital and expected to survive his injuries, Chief Magaw said.
"It's tragic, but it just shows the courage and dedication of these officers," he said.
Police had not yet spoken about the incident with the officer who survived. According to a preliminary investigation Monday afternoon, the two officers were investigating a theft from a vehicle. They saw a suspect vehicle — a silver Acura with temporary tags — and followed it, Chief Magaw said.
The officers followed the vehicle onto I-95 and radioed their location to emergency dispatchers, police said. Near the Powder Mill Road exit, the police vehicle went off the side of the road and landed in a ditch. The Acura drove off, and the officers were unable to get its license plate number.
Several officers and county officials, including County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, gathered at the Prince George's Hospital Center to pay tribute to the fallen officer, who had been involved with the department since he was a teenager as a member of the Explorers program. Starting in high school, the officer had been mentored by police officers in the 6th District, which covers the northernmost part of Prince George's County. The officer was a 2½-year veteran of the force.
The investigation stalled traffic on I-95 and the Beltway for hours Monday, with southbound I-95 closed late into the afternoon.
The crash, pursuit and theft are still under investigation. Police ask anyone with information to contact them at 866/411-8477.
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