A Prince George's County police officer died Monday after crashing his cruiser while chasing a suspect on Interstate 95 in Maryland, authorities said. Another officer sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the crash, and police continue to look for the vehicle the officers were chasing.
Police identified the deceased officer as 23-year-old Adrian Morris, of Laurel (below right).
The officers were investigating an attempted theft from a vehicle in the Laurel-Beltsville area when they spotted a silver Acura matching witnesses' descriptions. The officers pursued the vehicle on I-95 and reported their location before their vehicle left the road, coming to rest in a ditch near the Powder Mill Road-Beltsville exit, police said. They may have attempted to get behind the driver of the suspect vehicle and at some point lost control of the vehicle. Police are looking into whether the driver of the Acura purposely cut off the police cruiser, News4's Chris Gordon reported.
"It's tragic," Police Chief Mark Magaw said. "But it just shows the courage and dedication of these officers."
Morris, who was driving the cruiser, was ejected from the vehicle and suffered massive head injuries. He was flown to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead. Whether he was wearing a seat belt remains under investigation.
The other officer suffered multiple injuries but will survive, police said.
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"This is a family, and all of Prince George's County government is going to wrap its arms around these two officers and the rest of their colleagues to make sure we get through this," said County Executive Rushern Baker during a police press conference.
As a teenager, Morris had been involved in a mentoring group for young people interested in a police work.
"The officer who died today was a young man -- 23-years-old, two-and-a-half years on the police department," Magaw said. "(He) was a Police Explorer at District 6 prior to that."
The surviving officer has been with the department for a year.
“Our police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect us from harm, and we will be eternally grateful for the sacrifice of this officer made for the citizens of Prince George’s County,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said.
All lanes in both directions were briefly shut down in the area near Powder Mill Road at midday Monday. Two of four southbound lanes had reopened by 4:15 p.m.
The Acura had temporary tags. The driver fled the scene.
The theft from a vehicle that the officers were investigating was related to an incident in Montgomery County, News4's Jackie Bensen reported.
Police are looking for two people in connection with the case, including the person in the surveillance image below:
Anyone with information should call 866-411-TIPS.
Stay with NBCWashington.com as the story develops.