Maryland State Police announced that mid-afternoon Saturday, March 21 an off-duty Takoma Park police officer crashed into another vehicle on eastbound state Route 50 in Ann Arundel County. The three occupants of that car died: two teenagers and the father of one of the teens.
Officer Travis M. Ala, 28, Anne Arundel County resident, was the driver of a 2011 Nissan X-Terra that crashed into a 2007 Toyota Corolla driven by Susannah Badders, 19, of Manchester, Md., and her friend, Jason Simpkins, 19, of Ellicott City, Md. Both were pronounced dead March 22 at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where they had been flown following the crash. Susannah Badders’ father, Raymond Badders, 63, of Manchester, died at the scene of the crash.
The preliminary investigation by the Maryland State Police Crash Team indicates the Toyota driven by Susannah Badders was stopped in the the merge lane from southbound Interstate 97 to eastbound Route 50. The heavy traffic was caused by a prior accident further along Route 50.
According to the preliminary investigation, at around 2:45 PM Ala was eastbound on Route 50 and apparently did not observe the stopped traffic in time to stop. The police say evidence indicates Ala swerved to the right and struck the rear of the Toyota. The force of the crash caused the Nissan to overturn and pushed the Toyota into the Jeep Cherokee that was ahead of it. The occupants of that car were not injured.
Ala was transported by ambulance to Anne Arundel County Medical Center where he was treated and released, says the state police press release. The vehicle he was driving is registered to the Takoma Park Police Department, though he was off-duty at the time of the crash. He is listed on the Takoma Park website as holding the rank of private first class.
The state police announcement says a detailed crash investigation will be conducted by the state police. Upon completion, the investigation will be forwarded to the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office for review regarding charges.
At the March 23 Takoma Park city council meeting acting city manager Suzanne Ludlow expressed the city’s sympathy to the families of the deceased. She said, “we also share sympathies with the officer, who is devastated,”
“It’s a real tragic situation,” said Ludlow.