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Off-duty police officer killed in traffic mishap


An off-duty Baltimore City police officer was killed lat Saturday on Northern Parkway when his speeding motorcycle crashed into the side of a station wagon driven by a motorist whose license had been suspended, authorities said yesterday.

Officer Craig Joseph Simms, 28, of the 3300 block of Oakfield Ave., who had been assigned to the Northern District for three years, was pronounced dead at Sinai Hospital at 10:50 p.m., about 40 minutes after the accident.

Agent Doug Price, a city police spokesman, said Officer Sims was riding his 1991 Suzuki motorcycle west in the 3800 block of W. Northern Parkway, in Northwest Baltimore, when he hit the vehicle driven by Robert Leo Quattlebaum.

Mr. Quattlebaum, 38, who gave his address as the Town House Motor Hotel on Reisterstown Road, was turning east onto Northern Parkway from the southbound lane of Jonquil Avenue when the motorcycle hit his 1974 Ford Fairmont, police said.

Witnesses told police the motorcycle had been traveling well above the posted 35 mph speed limit.

City police charged Mr. Quattlebaum with driving while intoxicated and driving on a suspended Pennsylvania license. He was being held last night in the Northwestern District lockup in lieu of $2,500 bail.

The spokesman said the state's attorney's office will review the case and decide whether other charges will be lodged against Mr. Quattlebaum.

Charging documents filed yesterday with a District Court commissioner stated that a city police officer smelled alcohol on the man's breath while talking to him at the scene of the accident.

Despite a Breathalyzer test that turned up no trace of alcohol, police charged Mr. Quattlebaum with driving while intoxicated on the basis of the smell on his breath and his telling the police that he been drinking, said Officer Tony Petralia, of the Traffic Investigation Section.

Despite wearing a helmet, Officer Simms suffered severe head injuries.

"I think his injuries were so serious, there wasn't much they [the hospital] could do for him," Agent Price said.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete yesterday.

Lt. Wendell M. France, Officer Simms' shift commander, said the young man lived in Northwest Baltimore with his parents. He joined the force in January 1990. "He was a good officer," the lieutenant said.

Officer Simms had Saturday off and was last seen by his colleagues at a baseball game that morning involving officers from the Northern District.

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