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Trooper, Father of Six, Killed In Cruiser Crash

Trooper, Father of Six, Killed In Cruiser Crash

The Baltimore Sun via YellowBrix

May 23, 2011

LAUREL, MD – An on-duty Maryland State Trooper who might have been pursuing a speeding motorcycle was killed early Saturday in a crash on Interstate 95 in Howard County, according to police, who said the cruiser slammed into the back of a tractor trailer.

Police identified the trooper as Shaft S. Hunter, 39, an 11-year veteran and the father of six. The incident occurred about 2:40 a.m. on the highway shoulder south of Route 32. The trooper was pronounced dead on the scene.

A witness told police that a marked cruiser had been pursuing a fast-moving motorcycle shortly before Hunter’s car plowed into the truck. While Hunter had not radioed to his barrack that he was pursuing the motorcycle, the police statement said “that is not unusual when a trooper is in the initial moments of a traffic stop.”

Police said Hunter had been wearing his seatbelt.

The driver of the tractor trailer, Albert Sandino, 46 of Covina, Calif., told police he was headed from Aberdeen to Virginia with a load of household bleach when he pulled over to check for directions to his destination. Sandino was not injured.

The crash occurred near a rest area entrance ramp. Southbound lanes of I-95 at Route 32 were closed for several hours.

More Details:

Col. Terrence Sheridan, the superintendent of the Maryland State Police, called Hunter “an outstanding trooper who was known for his dedication to duty.”

“He died while working to keep our highways safe,” Sheridan said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed by his family and his fellow troopers at the Waterloo Barrack and throughout the Maryland State Police.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley issued a statement saying the tragedy “reminds us of the dangers associated with law enforcement and the risks they take on a daily basis to keep our state safe. My thoughts and prayers, and those of all Marylanders, are with the Hunter family on this difficult day.”

Hunter leaves six children ages 4 to 19. Funeral arrangements were incomplete late Saturday morning.

A native of Bridgeport, Conn., Hunter majored in criminal justice at St. Augustine College in Raleigh, N.C. He then joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 1994 to 2000. He was honorably discharged with the rank of first lieutenant.

The state police recruited him out of the Marine Corps. He was elected president of the 114th Trooper Candidate Class and spoke at his academy class graduation in June 2000.

In 2004, Hunter made a traffic stop on I-95 that led to the discovery of $500,000 worth of heroin. After Hunter pulled over a speeding Mitsubishi, he sought and received the driver’s permission to search the vehicle. Hunter noticed loose screws around the bottom of the dashboard, according to a Baltimore Sun story. He removed panels and discovered two packages later found to contain three-quarters of a kilogram of heroin.

The Colombian driver, Alberto Puente, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Hunter is the 43rd Maryland trooper to die in the line of duty since 1921, and the sixth since 2000. Here are summaries of the most recent fatalities:

June 11, 2010: Trooper Wesley Brown, 24, was working a second job providing security at a restaurant in Prince George’s County when a customer he had earlier escorted off the premises returned and shot him.

Sept. 28, 2008: A state police MedEvac helicopter crashed as it attempted to approach Andrews Air Force Base with two victims of a car accident aboard. The crash killed pilot Stephen H. Bunker, a retired state police corporal, and Trooper Mickey C. Lippy, a paramedic, as well as emergency medical technician Tonya Mallard and patient Ashley J. Younger. The other patient, Jordan Wells, was severely injured.

May 9, 2004: Trooper Anthony Jones, 50, was assisting at an accident scene on U.S. 50 near Bowie when he was struck and killed by a van whose driver was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Oct. 30, 2000: Trooper Edward M. Toatley, 37, was fatally shot in Northeast Washington while trying to negotiate an undercover drug buy.

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