A Maryland state trooper killed in a crash on Interstate 95 may have been pursuing a speeding motorcycle when his vehicle struck the back of a tractor trailer early Saturday, state police said.
Police said a witness reported being passed by a speeding motorcycle and then a state police vehicle, which the witness said struck the back of a tractor trailer. Trooper First Class Shaft Hunter, 39, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which occurred about 2:40 a.m., state police said.
The tractor-trailer driver told investigators he had pulled to the side of the highway to check on directions. He was not injured. He said he was driving from Aberdeen, Md. to Virginia with a load of household bleach, state police said.
The accident closed southbound I-95 until about 8:30 a.m. while an investigation was conducted.
State Police Superintendent Colonel Terrence B. Sheridan said Hunter, who had been on the force for 11 years, was the 43rd state trooper killed in the line of duty.
"TFC Hunter was an outstanding trooper who was known for his dedication to duty," Sheridan said. "He died while working to keep our highways safe. He will be greatly missed by his family and his fellow troopers at the Waterloo Barrack and throughout the Maryland State Police."
State Police said Hunter had not radioed in to report a chase, but that that is not unusual in the initial moments of an attempted traffic stop.
Hunter, the father of six children ages 4 to 19, was born in Bridgeport, Conn., earned a criminal justice degree from St. Augustine College in Raleigh, N.C., and joined the Marine Corps after college, where he served from 1994 to 2000 before joining the state police.
Gov. Martin O'Malley said the death was a tragic reminder of the risks of law enforcement.
"I'm saddened by the news of Trooper Hunter's tragic death," O'Malley said. "This tragedy, particularly as it occurred on duty as Trooper Hunter worked to keep our highways safe, reminds us of the dangers associated with law enforcement and the risks they take on a daily basis to keep our state safe."