Police: Officer Killed Crash “Distracted” Behind Wheel

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 – Robert Lang and Anne Kramer
Baltimore City Police officials tell WBAL News that a city police officer who was killed last year after crashing  his cruiser into the back of a fire engine, was driving distracted.

Officer Tommy Portz, 32, died in the October 20, crash on U.S. Route 40 in East Baltimore.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told WBAL News that Portz was looking at some debris that was in the roadway right before the crash, and he also could have been distracted by a film crew from HBO that was working on the other side of the divided highway.

“It’s common for people to get distracted,” Gugleilmi told WBAL News.

“Think about on your way home you see a deer on the side of the road, and you take your attention off the road for just a second, and that’s all it takes.  That’s all it takes. That one second of losing attention on the roadway.”

Guglielmi says Portz was not texting, talking on a phone, or on a police radio at the time of the crash.

According to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Baltimore Sun, police say Portz was driving at a speed of 71 m.p.h. on a roadway with a posted speed limit of 50 m.p.h.  

The report indicates Portz was not wearing a seat belt.


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