A crash that killed an off-duty Prince George’s County police officer was caused when the driver of an SUV swerved across several lanes of traffic, striking the officer’s cruiser and causing him to hit a utility pole, police officials said Friday.
Investigators also said Officer Kevin Bowden, who was killed in the Thursday afternoon crash, was not wearing his seat belt and that he might have been driving over the speed limit, county Police Chief Mark A. Magaw said. Charges are pending against the woman who was driving the SUV.
Just two months ago, another county police officer who was also not wearing a seat belt died in a crash during a police pursuit. The two officer deaths left officials stressing the importance of traffic safety among officers.
“This is a critical piece that we can control frankly,” Chief Magaw said during a press conference at police headquarters in Palmer Park. “There are so many things in this profession that you can’t control, you have to control the things you can.”
The collision occurred around 3:05 p.m. at the intersection of Branch Avenue and Surratts Road in Clinton. Officer Bowden, a six-year veteran of the department assigned to patrol in District 4, had finished his shift at 1 p.m. and was travelling northbound on Branch Avenue when the SUV struck his cruiser, police said. Images from the scene showed the cruiser sheared nearly in half by the utility pole, its airbags deployed. The white SUV nearby was missing its hood, the front-end was crumpled and its engine was exposed.
The woman, who has not been publicly identified, remained hospitalized Friday with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Chief Magaw said. Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks was briefed on the investigation Friday. A spokesman for her office said it was too early to tell what, if any, charges could be filed.
Officials have not determined how fast Officer Bowden was driving at the time of the crash nor have they gotten back results on routine toxicology tests.
On Aug. 20, Officer Adrian Morris was killed in a crash on Interstate 95 in Laurel after losing control of his cruiser during a police pursuit. He was ejected from the vehicle and died from massive head trauma. Another officer who was riding with him, Officer Michael Risher, was wearing his seat belt and survived.
“The general orders are very clear that anytime the vehicle is in motion … the seat belt has to be on,” Chief Magaw said.