PG Co. Police officer who died in crash had BAC of .07, reached 106 mph
PALMER PARK, Md. (AP/WJLA) – Prince George's County Police say an officer who died after crashing his cruiser had a blood alcohol concentration high enough to have been charged with driving while impaired.
Officers said in a news release Friday evening that speed may have also contributed to 26-year-old Officer Brennan Rabain's death on March 7.
Investigators had reported that Rabain was off duty and driving his girlfriend home when he spotted a speeding car. Police said Friday that Rabain reached a speed of 106 mph during the pursuit. Officers say at 64 mph, Rabain lost control of his car, which went off the road and crashed into a wooden fence along Greenbelt Road in Lanham. The fatal impact occurred at 50 mph.
Rabain's girlfriend survived the crash. Hours later, friends and family were at the scene, grieving.
Chief Mark Magaw said in a statement that he does not condone Rabain's decision to drive after consuming alcohol.
Police say they will never know the exact cause of the crash, but that it may have been a costly case of distracted driving under icy conditions. It happened when Rabain reached for his radio to call in to dispatch.
“Reaching down and changing on a police radio, that split second—if I had to guess—that’s when he lost control,” Magaw said.
Investigators insist this was not a police pursuit and that alcohol was not the primary cause. They say Rabain drove about six-tenths of a mile from the time he was passed by the reported speeding car to the crash.
Investigators say they sifted through video surveillance, and interviewed a Park Police officer who spoke with Rabain and a driver who followed his cruiser, who says he saw no signs the officer was intoxicated.
The police department has a zero-tolerance alcohol policy in its cruisers.
Civilians are permitted to ride in police cars, with previous written permission. Officers are told to use their discretion when responding to emergencies, and when making decisions whether civilian passengers should be let out beforehand.
The chief says the Prince George’s County Police Department will review its policies about civilians riding in police vehicles—and its pursuit policies in general.
"While we will never know what role alcohol played in this crash, the outcome is tragic," Magaw concluded.