Shaft Hunter, Maryland State Police trooper, killed in car accident

Shaft Hunter (Photo: Maryland State Police)

Friends and family will say goodbye to Trooper First Class Shaft Hunter, who was killed in a crash on Interstate 95.

The funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday at New Antioch Baptist Church in Randallstown.

Police say 39-year-old Hunter may have been pursuing a speeding motorcycle when his cruiser hit a tractor trailer early Saturday on Interstate 95.

Burial will be at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens. Gov. Martin O'Malley has ordered the Maryland flag be flown at half-staff in Hunter's honor until sunset Friday.

A scholarship fund has been created in the trooper's memory to benefit Hunter's six children.

Shaft Hunter, Maryland State Police trooper, killed in car accident

An 11-year veteran of the Maryland State Police was killed early Saturday morning while on duty in a crash in Howard County, the department says.

Authorities say that Trooper First Class Shaft S. Hunter may have been in pursuit of a speeding motorcycle when he crashed into an illegally parked tractor trailer on Interstate-95 near Laurel. Investigators believe the 39-year-old father of six had just started chasing a speeding motorcyclist.

“This tractor trailer appears to have been parked right beside a sign that said no stopping. That means no stopping, you don't even pull over there,” said Greg Shipley, a Maryland State Police spokesman.

The trucker appears to have been stopped only for a few minutes as he checked directions, Shipley said.

Truck driver Gloveal Boykin said it’s not unusual for a trucker to make stops. “If you’re almost to where you’re going and trying to get off an exit, before getting off the exit, that's what you have to do,” Boykin said.

Shipley countered that may be a reason but not an excuse, saying trucks and cars are not supposed to stop on a shoulder unless in an emergency.

Authorities say that Hunter was driving southbound on Interstate 95 at about 2:40 a.m. when he struck a tractor-trailer that was parked on the shoulder of an entrance ramp to the southbound I-95 rest area in Jessup. The driver of the truck, 46-year-old Albert Sandino, was not injured in the crash.

According to State Police, Trooper Hunter had not yet called in a pursuit and may well have quickly stopped chasing the motorcyclist. State Police officials say that isn't out of the ordinary in the initial moments of a stop.

"Tfc. Hunter was an outstanding trooper who was known for his dedication to duty," Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Terrence Sheridan said. "He died while working to keep our highways safe."

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement that his thoughts and prayers are with Hunter's family. "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," O'Malley said.

Hunter, originally of Bridgeport, Conn., is the 43rd state trooper to be killed in the line of duty. He leaves behind six children, ages 4-19. He also served in the United States Marine Corps for six years.

The viewing will be on Thursday, May 26, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Home in Randallstown, Md., Maryland State Police announced on behalf of Hunter’s family.

The funeral will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the New Antioch Baptist Church of Randallstown on 5609 Old Court Road, followed by Hunter’s burial at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.