CLINTON, Md. (WUSA) -- In a news conference on Friday morning, the Prince George's County Police chief said the SUV driver caused the crash that killed PoliceOfficer First Class Kevin Bowden.
According to Chief Magaw, the SUV driver decided to cross several lanes of traffic and collided with Bowden's police cruiser on Thursday. The cruiser crashed into a pole at Branch Avenue and Surrats Road in Clintonat around 3:05 p.m.
The 61 year old woman was allegedly stopped in the left turn lane at a red left arrow. Bowden had a green signal to go straight. For some reason, investigators say, the woman pulled out of the left lane and veered across three lanes to go right. She collided with Bowden and he went off the road and into a utility pole.
Thursday night, Magaw had hinted that the SUV driver might have been at fault in the accident based on witnesses reports. He said that police still want to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the accident.
The SUV driver remains in the hospital, but is expected to be ok. It will be up to the State's Attorney to decide whether to charge her in Officer Bowden's death.
Chief Magaw said investigators are looking at all factors in the crash, including speed. He said at the news conference that the physical evidence at the scene suggests that theOfficer Bowden was traveling above the speed limit, but he did not have the specific speed on-hand.
Toxicology test results are not in yet, said Magaw.
He also shared that Bowden was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the incident.
Bowden was off-duty at the time of the crash, police said.Bowden, the 28-year-old father of a 10-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter, was transferred to the hospital right after the crash, where he was pronounced dead.He was a six-year veteran on the force, police said.
The female driver in the other vehicle was taken toPrince George's Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Friday morning, she remained in the hospital.
Police have asked for "time to heal," because this is the second officer who has died in a car crash, within months, for the Prince George's County Police departmentand the third in two years.It was August, when Officer Adrian Morris was killed during a pursuit, when his patrol car hit a guardrail on I-95, ejecting him. It was later found he wasn't wearing his seat belt.
Officer Thomas Jepson died in March, 2010 when he hit a patch of ice and ran into a utility pole. He was not wearing a seatbelt either.
Experts say it's a national problem, with many officers resisting wearingseatbelts because they think it slowsthem down, and that they couldget caught on theirguns when they're trying to respond to an emergency.
Police department spokesperson Julie Parker thanked members of the community, the police community and nationwide who have reached out to the department with words of kindness and sympathy.