Minivan strikes officer during routine traffic stop in Prince George’s County

A Prince George’s County police officer was flown to a hospital with serious injuries Thursday morning after he was hit by a minivan during a routine traffic stop in Forestville, authorities said.

The officer dove into a ditch along Pennsylvania Avenue as he tried to escape the oncoming vehicle, an action that probably saved his life, county Police Chief Mark A. Magaw said.

“This morning has been a harrowing event for this police department,” Magaw said. “It looks like we’ve escaped a terrible incident.”

Officer Bashua Olaseha, 26, was in serious but stable condition Thursday afternoon in the intensive care unit at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, police said.

The incident occurred about 9 a.m. after Olaseha pulled over a sedan in a routine traffic stop on northbound Pennsylvania Avenue near Walters Lane, Prince George’s police spokeswoman Julie Parker said.

Two other officers were on the scene to provide routine backup, Parker said. As the three officers returned to their cruisers, they saw a black minivan heading toward them that didn’t look as if it was slowing down, Parker said.

All three officers jumped out of the way, but the minivan struck the police cruisers and Olaseha, who leapt into the ditch.

“As we look at the scene, you can see the depression where his body was,” Magaw said. “The ground was wet, and it allowed him to sink into the soil instead of taking the direct impact of the engine of this minivan.”

Olaseha was pinned underneath the vehicle for several minutes before county fire and rescue crews freed him, police said.

It was unclear why the minivan’s driver veered onto the shoulder, police said. The investigation was continuing Thursday evening, and no charges had been filed, police said.

The minivan’s driver was taken to the county hospital, and his injuries were not considered to be life-threatening, Magaw said. A woman who was a passenger in the minivan was taken to a D.C. hospital for observation, police said.

Olaseha has worked for the department for about a year and a half. He is assigned to the District 3 station, which roughly covers the middle of the county from the Beltway west to the D.C. line.

Hundreds of officers went to the hospital Thursday afternoon, standing outside of the emergency room in support of their injured colleague. Such a turnout is not unusual for the “close-knit police family,” said Dean Jones, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police.

“I’m confident he is going to make a full recovery and eventually return to work,” Jones said. “Incidents like this just show how dangerous it is, the work that we do.”

Officials are asking witnesses to the crash to call 301-731-4422.

Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.

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Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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