CHARLES COUNTY, Md. — On January 20, shortly after 8 p.m., a Charles County Sheriff’s officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop on a Toyota Camry in the area of St. Charles Parkway near St. Ignatius Drive. The driver pulled into a nearby parking lot but failed to stop. The driver accelerated through the parking lot of a business and at one point abruptly stopped and then quickly put his car in reverse, accelerating backward toward the officer’s car. The driver then went forward and began driving on St. Charles Parkway at a very high rate of speed.
The officer followed the driver northbound on St. Charles Parkway but temporarily lost sight of the car as it darted in front of another vehicle near a curve in the road. The officer then noticed debris from a crash in the roadway and initially thought it was unrelated; however, as he went to assist he observed it was the vehicle that had fled.
The driver ran from the car. A female passenger was located on the ground near the car and with life-threatening injuries. Officers and emergency medical workers attempted life-saving measures, including CPR, but the woman was pronounced deceased. The woman, who is not being identified pending notification to the next of kin, is in her early 50’s.
Numerous officers conducted a coordinated search for the driver with the assistance of a tracking K-9 and helicopter. After several minutes, officers located the driver in a nearby neighborhood and he was taken into custody. He had a minor injury from the crash and was transported to a hospital.
In accordance with Maryland law, the Office of the Attorney General’s Independent Investigations Division (IID) and the Maryland State Police (MSP) was contacted and responded to the scene to lead the investigation.
The driver of the car was identified as Joseph Eugene Penn, 41, of Suitland, MD. Investigators learned Penn had an open warrant through Charles County Circuit Court for failure to appear on a felony theft case and an active civil warrant. It was also learned narcotics might have been a contributing factor in the crash. Additional criminal charges for Penn are being reviewed in consultation with the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Investigators are trying to identify the occupants of two vehicles that were in the area who may have witnessed the crash and are asking anyone with additional information about this incident to call the Office of the Attorney General’s Independent Investigations Division at 410-576-7070. The investigation is ongoing.