Accident badly burns officer Driver of truck that hit gas pump flees but is captured

September 27, 1997|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

An off-duty Baltimore County police officer was critically burned while refueling his sport utility vehicle last night when a pickup truck ran into a pump at a Linthicum gas station.

The officer, whose name was not immediately divulged, was flown by helicopter to the burn unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Southeast Baltimore.

The driver of the Ford pickup truck that struck the gas pump at Hammonds Ferry Citgo fled on foot after the crash but was captured minutes later about a quarter of a mile away, Anne Arundel County police said.

Debbie Cavey, 40, night attendant at the station, in the 700 block of Hammonds Ferry Road, said she did not see the impact but "saw the flames and heard the boom. The first thing I did was hit the emergency switch that turns off the pumps, and then I saw the man in flames. It was terrible."

Police said that a bystander pulled the officer to safety and apparently smothered the flames with his shirt.

The suspect was found behind two fast-food restaurants on Nursery Road. Police were withholding the name of the suspect until charges were filed.

Police said a second suspect who also fled after the crash was being sought. Alcohol may have been a factor in the accident, they said.

The accident occurred just before 9 p.m. when the dark-colored Ford pickup truck struck the gas pump, spraying gasoline onto the officer and his Jeep Cherokee. Both were in flames immediately.

"A preliminary investigation shows that the suspects [were] there prior to the accident to borrow a gas can," said William Krampf, public information officer for the Anne Arundel police. "It is suspected that they were returning the gas can just before the accident."

The Citgo station had some damage. The gas pump was destroyed, and an overhead canopy and light covers were melted.

Capt. Allan Graves, public information officer for Anne Arundel County Fire/EMS/Rescue, said the accident caused a small fuel leak that did not create a hazard.

"Our hazardous-materials unit was not called in," Graves said.

Sgt. Kevin Novak, a Baltimore County police spokesman, described the injured officer as a veteran but provided no further information about him pending notification of relatives.

No one else was injured, police said.

Pub Date: 9/28/97

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