Arundel officer struck by car during DUI arrest

August 14, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

An Anne Arundel County police officer who was arresting a Crofton man on a charge of drunken driving was struck by another driver who was also suspected of being intoxicated, police said yesterday.

Officer Alex Swartz, 36, was climbing back into his cruiser early Saturday when he was sideswiped by a Saturn Ion that hit his lower body and nearly ripped off his driver's side door, said Cpl. Mark Shawkey, a county police spokesman.

Swartz, a three-year member of the agency, was treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center for a severely sprained or possibly fractured ankle, Shawkey said.

"Any time that we step out of our vehicle conducting traffic stops, we're at risk, but that's a risk that's taken as a factor in the job," Shawkey said.

According to FBI statistics, 120 law-enforcement officers standing on roadways to direct traffic, assist motorists or pull over vehicles died after being struck by vehicles from January 1995 to December 2004.

In June, a Howard County police officer was struck and killed by a car he was trying to stop during a traffic-enforcement detail that required him to step into the road to flag down speeding motorists.

When making traffic stops, Arundel police are instructed to pull drivers over in well-lighted areas with shoulder space if possible, Shawkey said. Their Crown Victorias have strobe lights in the tail lights, and the rooftop light bars have orange arrows that alert motorists to stay to the side.

Swartz had pulled over the initial suspect, 35-year-old Michael Martin of Nestlewood Court in Crofton, at Riedel Road and Notely Lane. He had placed Martin in his cruiser and was getting into the driver's seat when the Saturn hit his car and continued for another 190 feet.

The driver, 21-year-old David Gregory, was quickly arrested by a Crofton police officer and another county officer who had been on the scene to assist with the original traffic stop.

Gregory, of the 1600 block of Mount Airy Court in Crofton, was arrested and was under suspicion of driving under the influence after taking a Breathalyzer test, police said.

He and the others on the scene escaped injury, including Gregory's passenger and the owner of the Saturn, Shelby Ann Estep of Gambrills; Martin; and his passenger, Rebecca Burke of Annapolis, who was standing next to the police cruiser when it was struck.

Torrey Jacobsen, head of the Greater Crofton Council community group, expressed frustration over the incident.

"We have repeatedly asked for more police into our area," he said. "They need to do more traffic, speed and DUI enforcement."

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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