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Friday, March 23, 2012

A Unusual Citizen Encounter and Presidential Motorcade Earns Employee an Award

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

On Thursday, March 22, 2012, William Hawkins, Aide to Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor, was presented with an Emergency Services Award for his actions wherein he possibly saved the lives of many.

William "Hawk" Hawkins - Fire Chief's Aide
presented with Emergency Services Award
On Thursday, March 15, 2012, William Hawkins was driving an unmarked Fire/EMS Department vehicle on Route 50 approaching the Capital Beltway, when he noticed a Ford pickup in front of him was weaving across lanes as they took the sky ramp over the Beltway.  The truck careened from one side of the roadway to the other as it crossed the ramp and entered the Beltway.  Mr. Hawkins, fearing for his safety and the safety of others, contacted Public Safety Communications and requested police assistance to stop the vehicle “before someone got hurt.”  He activated his emergency warning devices and keeping a distance from the vehicle, he matched its weaving in an effort to keep other beltway traffic back. 

On this same day, President Obama was scheduled to visit Prince George’s Community College in Largo.  Hawkins and the driver of the out of control truck passed nearly thirty police cars, which were positioned on the side of the road and awaiting the order to block roads for the arrival of the Presidential motorcade.  As a matter of national security, law enforcements officers were committed to their Presidential motorcade detail.  Hawkins understood that the police officers on the Presidential detail could not leave their assigned duty and he knew that other police officers were dispatched and on the way to assist him.  He provided constant updates via his radio as to his location and direction of travel.  Fire Department dispatchers tracked Hawkins location and updated police dispatchers as to his location on the computer aided dispatch system.

Still on the Beltway and at speeds upwards of 80 mph, the pickup truck veered down into the median strip then back into the roadway.  It spun 360 degrees on the beltway, missing one of the police vehicles that were waiting for the Presidential motorcade.  The truck then continued forward toward Allentown Road.  Hawkins, still operating on his own, advised Communications that he was going to "try and stop this guy before he kills someone.”  He used his vehicle to force the pickup truck onto the Allentown Road ramp and then continued to affect the vehicle’s disablement.

As the vehicle approached a busy intersection filled with vehicle and pedestrian traffic at the Main Gate of Andrews Air Force Base, Hawkins knew he needed to stop the vehicle now or potentially be a witness to tragedy.  He pulled alongside and in front of the vehicle and forced the truck to a stop on the side of the road.  As the vehicle started to back up, possibly in an attempt to flee, Hawkins, still operating independently and not knowing the drivers physical or mental status, opened the drivers door and turned the ignition key to the off position and removed the keys.  Numerous police officers arrived shortly after Hawkins had disabled the vehicle.

The adult male driver, 84 years of age, displayed signs and symptoms of experiencing a medical emergency and Hawkins once again used his radio to request paramedic assistance.  The patient was assessed as having a diabetic emergency and was transported by paramedics to an area hospital.

Fire Chief Bashoor stated, “Hawkins selflessly put his life on the line, preventing what might have been a tragic outcome in this situation.  The courage and leadership he demonstrated while operating on this incident are unparalleled, and his actions are certainly worthy of recognition.”