The Prince George’s County Police Department’s Collision Analysis Reconstruction Unit is investigating this afternoon’s single car fatal crash in Landover. A 21-year veteran of the department was taken to the hospital with burns to his face and hands after trying to free the driver from the burning wreckage.
Preliminarily, the investigation reveals a Mercury Mountaineer was traveling westbound on MLK Highway near Whitfield Chapel Road at about 12:40 pm when it hit a guard rail just before the overpass to the Beltway. The SUV careened sideways down the roadway until it came to rest on its driver’s side on the overpass. The SUV caught fire with the driver trapped inside. Three Prince George’s County police officers quickly arrived on the scene and tried to rescue the driver. A 21-year veteran with the Intelligence Unit suffered burns to his face and hands while trying to help. The officer was taken to the hospital for treatment. A 23-year veteran patrol officer assigned to District III attempted to break the windshield but the intense flames forced him back. Despite the help of these two officers and a third patrol officer assigned to the PGPD Special Operations Division, as well as an unidentified civilian, the driver died in the fiery crash. He is identified as 70-year-old Rodwell McNeill, Jr. of the 7900 block of Dellwood Avenue in Glenarden.
A 70-year-old man was killed Monday in a single-vehicle crash in Prince George’s County, and a 21-year veteran of the Prince George’s County Police Department was hurt trying to save him.
The crash occurred at Martin Luther King Highway and Whitfield Chapel Road a little after 1 p.m. The vehicle involved in the crash caught fire, and its occupant, 70-year-old Rodwell McNeill Jr. of Glenarden, was trapped inside.
Prince George’s Police Corporal Ron Owens saw the smoke and responded. Running to help, he was the third officer to arrive on scene.
“I saw three people. It was two officers, one was a civilian, trying to break the windshield out and actually pull the guy out of the car,” Owens said.
Owens attempted to join the other officers in saving the trapped victim inside the SUV. But he and the other officers can’t save him.
“We had to back off. The one officer he had burns on his arms, his hands was all cut up, he had burns to his face just from the heat,” Owens recalled.
In video from Owens’ cruiser camera, you can see a plain clothes police lieutenant clearly in pain. Another officer poured water onto his burned hands.
The lieutenant suffered burns to his face and hands trying to save the victim.
“I’m grateful to them. I know they tried. I know they tried,” said Polly Young, McNeill’s mother-in-law. “They are heroes.”
She says her family knows the officers did all they could.
“He was a good man, he was a Christian man, he was a good husband,” Young said of her son-in-law.
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