The Washington Post

Off-duty Prince George’s officer killed in car crash

Prince George’s County Police Officer Kevin Bowden was killed and another person was hurt in what police called a “very serious crash” Thursday afternoon, authorities said. (The Washington Post/Matt Zapotosky)

An off-duty Prince George’s County police officer was killed in a crash in his marked cruiser Thursday afternoon, the second time this year that a county officer has been fatally injured in a traffic accident.

Officer Kevin Bowden, 28, had completed his work shift and was headed north on Branch Avenue about 3 p.m. when his cruiser collided with a sport-utility vehicle near the intersection of Surratts Road, County Police Chief Mark Magaw said Thursday night. He said the impact of the crash forced Bowden’s cruiser into a utility pole.

Bowden was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Magaw said.

“He’s a fine officer,” Magaw said.

The woman driving the SUV also was injured, Magaw said, and was taken to a different hospital. Her injuries were not thought to be life-threatening, he said.

Magaw said some witnesses suggested that the officer had been cut off, although investigators have not reached any conclusions on what caused the accident.

Magaw said the officer, who had finished his shift at 1 p.m., had worked for the department for six years and was assigned to the Oxon Hill station. He was the father of a 10-year-old boy and a girl who is about 4, Magaw said.

Officers are permitted to take their cruisers home after their shifts.

At Southern Maryland Hospital Center on Thursday night, a woman’s cries could be heard from an area where officers and others had gathered. Dozens of officers and others formed a line and gave a salute as Bowden’s body was taken from the hospital to an ambulance.

“This is a tragedy,” said Vince Canales, president of the county police union. “It’s unfortunate. It’s very sad.”

County Public Safety Director Barry Stanton called Thursday “a sad day in Prince George’s County and the Police Department.”

Officers who knew Bowden remembered him as a steady, funny officer who loved his children and the Dallas Cowboys. Maj. George Nader, who once was Bowden’s shift commander in Oxon Hill, said Bowden was “one of the officers that loved the job.”

“Laid-back, happy kind of guy. Had a smile that would light up a room,” Nader said. “Everybody’s somber, somber right now. It’s like a one-two punch here.”

In August, Officer Adrian Morris, 23, who had been on the force for a little more than two years, was killed on Interstate 95 when he lost control of his police cruiser and crashed into a ravine while he and his partner were chasing suspects in an attempted car break-in.

In Bowden’s case, investigators are trying to determine whether the SUV had pulled into the officer’s path as the driver tried to get around a bus.

“Our county government, every community and every citizen of Prince George’s County grieves again this evening,” County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) said in a prepared release, asking the public “to keep Officer Bowden’s family and our law enforcement community in your thoughts and prayers.”

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.

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