What to Know
- Trooper Ezra Ganeshananda, 26, was parked on the shoulder of the Beltway when a Mercedes slammed into his car, police said.
- Police believe the Mercedes driver had been involved in an earlier crash, though it was not clear if he hit someone or if someone hit him.
- The driver, who also was hospitalized, will face criminal charges, authorities said.
A Maryland State Police trooper hurt in a chain-reaction car crash on the Capital Beltway Thursday is still listed in critical condition, state police said.
Trooper Ezra Ganeshananda was seriously injured after he was trapped for more than an hour in the wreckage of his cruiser following the collision. Drivers on the Capital Beltway stopped to try to rescue him but found themselves helpless.
"I touched his shoulder, I'm like, 'Officer, are you OK? Are you awake?' I didn't get no response," tow truck driver Tom Herrera said. "I just got on his walkie-talkie, and I just said 'Trooper down on 495.'"
"All of us came down and were trying to help the trooper, but we couldn't do anything with our bare hands," tow truck driver Chiebere Obimma said. "There was one state trooper, I don't know his name -- that man did everything possible to save the trooper. He was crying."
Ganeshananda, 26, was sitting in his cruiser when it was hit twice about 2 p.m. Thursday on the Beltway (I-495).
Witnesses told police a driver in a 2011 Mercedes Benz C300 sped along the left shoulder of the freeway, and then the right shoulder. The driver of the Mercedes then slammed into the trooper's car.
Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information
Ganeshananda was parked on the shoulder of the Beltway north of Annapolis Road (Route 450) and was wrapping up an investigation of a single-car crash when the Mercedes slammed into his car, police said.
That driver, who police identified as Prasad Yadavalli, 60, may have been involved in an earlier hit-and-run crash, police said. Investigators did not immediately know whether Yadavalli caused that crash or was the victim.
Yadavalli's car slammed into the trooper's car a second time when a tow truck hit the Mercedes, trapping the trooper inside.
"The only thing I heard was the impact," Obimma said. His rig was damaged in the crash.
Herrera used his tow truck to move the Mercedes out of the way.
Crews pried Ganeshananda out of the car. A Maryland State Police helicopter landed on the Beltway and rushed the trooper to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
"When he went into the helicopter, I was praying for him," Herrera said.
Herrera said he saw the Mercedes get rear-ended earlier, and that Yadavalli had begun to drive erratically before his car hit the trooper.
"The car was just out of control. He was hitting everything. I think he just was out of it," Herrera said.
Yadavalli, who also was hospitalized, was not immediately available for comment. A call to his business went unanswered.
He will face criminal charges, Cpl. Devaughn Parker said Thursday afternoon.
"There will be charges here, coming soon," he said. "We're going to consult with the state's attorney's office to make sure all charges are appropriate."
Yadavalli had not been charged as of Friday evening.
Ganeshananda is a road patrol trooper who had been on the job less than a year. Fellow troopers, including his brother, were with him Thursday evening as his treatment continued.
The Beltway was partially closed in Maryland for nearly four hours Thursday after the chain-reaction car crash, leaving drivers in bumper-to-bumper traffic for miles.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.