A Maryland state trooper who died in a crash with a stopped tractor trailer on I-95 in North Laurel early Saturday may have been pursuing a motorcycle driving south on the interstate, an initial investigation has concluded.
Police identified the officer as Trooper First Class Shaft Hunter, 39, a father of six who had been on the force 11 years.
An initial investigation indicated that Hunter was in pursuit of a motorcycle driving south on I-95 when the officer's vehicle collided into the rear of a tractor trailer that was parked on the shoulder of the interstate.
The department said this sequence of events is "possible" but that, as of now, it is based on witness information. A witness told police that a motorcycle passed his vehicle "at a high rate of speed" and it was followed by a marked police car, which, moments later, crashed into the tractor trailer.
State Police said the accident occurred about 2:40 a.m. near the Laurel rest area. The driver of the truck told investigators he had pulled to the side of the interstate to check on directions to his destination, police said.
“This tragedy, particularly as it occurred on duty as Trooper Hunter worked to keep our highways safe, reminds us of the dangers associated with law enforcement and the risks they take on a daily basis to keep our state safe," said Gov. Martin O'Malley, in a press release. "My thoughts and prayers, and those of all Marylanders, are with the Hunter family on this difficult day.”
Hunter served in the Marine Corps from 1994 to 2000.
"He died while working to keep our highways safe," said MSP Superintendent Colonel Terrence Sheridan. "He is the 43rd state trooper to make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the people of Maryland."
A Maryland state trooper died early today in a crash on southbound I-95 in Howard County, police say.
The crash occurred about 2:40 a.m.on southbound I-95, south of Route 32, near the entrance ramp to a rest area.
The trooper, who was on duty, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a press release.
The trooper's name was not released pending the notification of family.
Due to the crash investigation, southbound lanes of I-95 have been closed at Route 32.
More details on the crash are expected to be released later Saturday.