Officer injured when cruiser crashes He ran stop sign, investigators say


A Baltimore City police officer and another man were critically injured yesterday when a patrol car apparently went through a stop sign and collided with a van at a Northwest Baltimore intersection, authorities said.

Investigators said Officer William G. Hotz Jr. was driving one of two patrol cars assigned to speed enforcement in the area, and apparently was searching for a motorist detected as speeding on radar when the collision occurred about 9 a.m. at Gwynn Oak and Penhurst avenues.

Injured were Officer Hotz, 34, who was flown by state police MedEvac helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center; a passenger in the patrol car, Police Officer Trainee Charles J. Schmidt Jr., 22, was treated for minor injuries, while the other driver, John Louis Pendergrass, 48, was admitted at Sinai Hospital.

Officer Hotz and Mr. Pendergrass, of the 2200 block of Druid Hill Ave., both suffered severe head and facial injuries and were listed in critical condition.

Police Trainee Schmidt was released after treatment for facial and knee cuts.

A six-year veteran assigned to the Northwestern District, Officer Hotz was driving west in the 4300 block of Penhurst searching for a speeder when he apparently missed the stop sign and drove the 1977 Chevrolet Caprice patrol car into the path of Mr. Pendergrass' 1984 Dodge Ram, which was northbound on Gwynn Oak, police said.

The front of the van struck the patrol car on the driver's side, and the impact sent Mr. Pendergrass -- who was not wearing a seat belt -- through his windshield, police said.

Officer Hotz and Police Trainee Schmidt, who was undergoing field training, both were using safety restraints. Rescuers had to pry open the wrecked patrol car to free them.

Agent Doug Price, a police spokesman, said Officer Hotz was not answering an emergency call and had not activated any emergency equipment on the patrol vehicle.

"The van had the right of way," he said. "The patrol car had the stop sign."

The accident remained under investigation, however, and no charges were lodged immediately, he said.

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