(MT. AIRY, MD) – A Howard County Police Department officer, a person he had in custody, and a driver who hit them are all in the hospital this morning after an early morning crash in Mt. Airy
The injured are identified as Officer Richard M. Romberger Jr., 43, of the Howard County Police Department, Matthew J. Griffis, 27, of the 24000-block of Burnt Hill Road, Clarksburg, Md., and Ricky A. Epperson, 25, of the 7800-block of East Hill Road, Mt. Airy, Md. All three individuals were flown by Maryland State Police helicopters to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center where they are undergoing treatment for what are preliminarily believed to be non-life threatening injuries.
Shortly before 2:00 a.m. today, Trooper First Class James Smith of the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack was dispatched to attempt to locate a crash reported to be on Rt. 144 near Mt. Airy. The trooper was southbound on Rt. 27 when he noticed several Howard County Police cars with their emergency lights activated on Rt. 144 near Griffith Road, about one-quarter mile east of Rt. 27.
TFC Smith pulled up behind several Howard County units parked on the eastbound shoulder and also activated his emergency lights. Parked just ahead of him in the eastbound lane of Rt. 144 was Officer Romberger’s patrol unit, which also had its emergency lights on.
TFC Smith learned the crash he had been dispatched to was in Howard County and was being handled by county officers. They told him a driver involved in that crash, Matthew Griffis, had left the scene on Penn Shop Road, but had just been located and taken into custody by Officer Romberger and the other officers at their current location on Rt. 144.
The preliminary investigation by Maryland State Police indicates that Officer Romberger was standing on the passenger side of his patrol car with Griffis when they were struck by a 2000 Volvo S-70, driven by Ricky Epperson. State Police investigators believe Epperson was traveling eastbound toward the stopped police cars, all of which had their emergency lights activated, when he failed to stop, clipped the front of the parked State Police patrol car, hit the Howard County patrol car, and then struck Officer Romberger and Griffis.
TFC Smith called for emergency medical personnel to respond as police on the scene administered first aid to the injured. Maryland State Police helicopters from Frederick and Baltimore were dispatched to the scene and transported the three injured persons.
The Maryland State Police CRASH Team responded to the scene and will be conducting the continuing investigation. A specific cause for the crash has not been positively identified at this time. Nothing is being ruled out at this early stage of the investigation.
No charges have been filed at this time. State Police investigators are continuing to collect evidence and will review their investigation with the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office before charges are filed.