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SUV that crashed into tree in Md., killing 4, was stolen, police say



An SUV that crashed into a tree Friday in Prince George’s County and became engulfed in flames — killing all four occupants — had been stolen in an earlier carjacking, police said Sunday.

Officials did not identify the four people killed and said in a statement that “due to the severity of the burn injuries, their ages and genders are currently unknown.” Officers had chased the Kia Sorento briefly Friday, but after losing sight of it said they called off their pursuit. About four minutes later, they said, the vehicle left the road and crashed.

“The loss of life in this crash is tragic,” Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz said in a statement, adding that crash investigators are “working diligently to not only identify those killed but to determine the circumstances of this crash in order to provide answers to their families and our community.”

About 7:30 p.m. Friday, officers near Lottsford Road and Palmetto Drive — just east of the Capital Beltway — spotted a Kia Sorento with expired temporary tags, officials said.

Officers turned on their flashing lights and sirens and tried to stop it.

“The vehicle sped off,” Prince George’s police said in a statement. “Officers briefly attempted to pursue the Kia but lost sight of the vehicle and disengaged.”


A short time later — about 2½ miles away — the Kia passed a civilian car on the shoulder of Woodmore Road. “The driver of the Kia lost control and crashed into a tree,” and the Kia caught on fire, police said.

Responding firefighters put out the blaze. All four occupants were pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators were able to match the Sorento’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to an SUV reported stolen earlier that morning in Greenbelt, according to a Prince George’s police spokeswoman.

In that carjacking, a man reported that five people approached him, one armed with a gun, and demanded his vehicle, according to a Greenbelt police spokesman. The group stole the SUV and was last seen heading toward the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, according to the spokesman.

Prince George’s police said they would release the names of the four crash victims after their identities are confirmed and their families are notified.

Because the incident involved a brief police pursuit, investigators from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s Independent Investigations Division, which investigates police-involved deaths in the state, reviewed what happened.

“Based on available camera footage, police reports, dispatch records, and witness statements, the [division] determined that no law enforcement action was taken by Prince George’s County Police Officers for a period of at least four minutes prior to the vehicle being involved in a single-vehicle collision,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.


Based on its review, the AG’s office said that the incident “does not qualify as an officer-involved fatality pursuant to our statute” and that the office would not be investigating the matter.

Source: Washington Post

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