4 city police officers hurt in crash with van

February 18, 1993|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Staff Writer

Four Northern District narcotic squad officers were injured last night, two of them seriously, when their unmarked car collided with a van at the intersection of North Howard and West 28th streets.

Two men in the van sustained minor injuries.

The police car was responding to a report of shots being fired several blocks away.

Officer John Dodge, of the traffic investigation section, said the officers were returning to the station shortly after 9:30 p.m. following a narcotics raid at an undisclosed location and were westbound on 29th Street when they heard a broadcast of shots fired at Barclay and 28th streets, about a dozen blocks to the east.

Officer Dodge said the driver of the police car, Officer Michelle Cheatham, 25, turned left onto the 2900 block of North Howard Street.

In the 2800 block of N. Howard St., Officer Cheatham was attempting to turn left onto eastbound 28th Street when the car was struck broadside by a northbound Ford Econoline van driven by Oswald Minto, 37, of the 2200 block of St. Paul St.

Both vehicles had the green light.

Officer Dodge said the police car was not equipped with a siren or emergency lights.

The impact caused the van to flip over on its driver's side before it came to rest in the intersection.

The police car remained upright and stopped a few yards away, its passenger side severely damaged.

Robert Asendorf, 33, of the 2700 block of N. Howard St., said he was on the southwest corner of the intersection when the collision occurred.

He said he saw a marked police car with its lights flashing head east on 28th Street and stop at the intersection before proceeding very slowly.

That police car, said Officer Dodge, also was responding to the call.

Mr. Asendorf said the marked car hadn't gotten into the intersection when the unmarked police car and the van crashed.

"It was just one big bang," he said.

"The van fell over almost in slow motion," he said.

As he neared the accident scene, he said, he saw men wearing jackets with the word POLICE emblazoned on the backs and that one of the officers was unable to get out.

Trapped in the police car was Sergeant Mark Tomlin, 33, who was seated in the front passenger seat and caught the full impact of the collision.

Firefighters using metal cutting tools freed Sgt. Tomlin and rushed him and Officer Michael Mancuso, 29, to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where each was admitted in serious but stable condition.

Officer Dodge said Officers Cheatham and Larry Bazzle, 32, were taken to Union Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries and lacerations before being released after midnight.

Mr. Minto complained of neck pain but did not seek medical treatment.

His passenger, Jerry Lee Owens, 42, of the 3400 block of Greenway, went to Mercy Medical Center for treatment of possible neck injuries.

His condition was not immediately available.

Officer Dodge said charges against Officer Cheatham were pending a full investigation of the accident.

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