BALTIMORE (AP) — An investigative report concludes that a Baltimore police officer who died when his cruiser crashed into the back of a fire truck was speeding. 

The report also say Officer Thomas Portz Jr., 32, was probably distracted by a film crew on the opposite side of a highway when he crashed in October. 

The report was obtained by The Baltimore Sun under the Public Information Act. It also says Portz was not wearing his seat belt. 

According to the report, Portz had been speeding at 71 mph. The speed limit is 50 mph on that portion U.S. 40. Portz was not responding to an emergency call. 

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (22)
  1. mollym says:

    I feel bad for his family but when does a cop not speed?

    1. John says:

      Agree completely, the police fly up and down the street in front of my house (30mph or more above limit) and when I call to “complain” and ask that they be careful. The police post a car out front for a few days ticketing civilians for doing 10 mph over.

      1. William says:

        He was responding to a call! It’s obvious that this article is meant in a way to ‘air some dirty laundry,’ so I wouldn’t expect WJZ to be responsible enough to go back and research the information from BCPD in regards to the call that he was responding to. He was in a hurry to get to the same call that the firetruck had earlier been in a hurry to get to. Yes it’s a tragedy, yes it was an accident, and yes apparently he was distracted, but he also was responding to render aid to someone and keep them from harm’s way.

  2. derylesmith says:

    its better to be late than not at all when you drive any type of motor vechile you need to drive safe(with safety belts like everybody else) even if you try to go faster than posted and do we need to burn the rubber to every acurance.That i would leave up to the police department

  3. Kandice Ruff Brune says:

    Does this report really change the fact that a life was lost and others will never be the same. Let the officer’s family grieve in peace.

    1. CWB says:

      No kandice, it does not, but what it does say is a policy was violated which could have killed more than the officer, including the parked firefighters!

  4. Art says:

    I say “good”, one less distracted driver and speeder off the road. Lucikily he didn’t take others with him, as is so often the case.

    1. William says:

      I wonder if you would have said that if the person he was responding to assist was your family member, and he had made it to him/her in time to save their life and keep them from being hit by a care? A man gives his life in his response to help a citizen, someone he probably never meant, all while his family was at home without their father. He lived to help others and saved lives throughout his carreer, and you sum up his life and work with “good, one less distracted driver?” You should be very proud.

    2. Dave says:

      You are an a$$hole. I someone sums up your death as good when you die you pos!

      1. Dave says:

        I hope I mean

    3. Net says:

      I AGREE!!!! The Police Speed alll the time just because they can!! They text and talk on their cell phens while driving !! Better him than my child !!!!

      1. Nickibrown5 says:

        Your an iddiot and don’t have a clue what your talking aboutl… he was responding to a call and was distracted by a camera crew that was filming on the side.. texting or calling had nuthing to do with it.. lets hope you are the next 911 caller and the responder doesn’t feel like speeding and saving your child!

  5. QUID PRO QUO says:

    Sorry the young man lost his life, but these young men and women are given far more credit than they deserve, and authority than they can handle, they truly need more seasoned supervision from older staff. Life is not what you see on TV, stop trying to be TV cops. Just do your job.

  6. Quid Pro Quo? says:

    It puzzles me as to why the media and others in Baltimore constantly criticize Police and firefighters. They only focus on negative acts. You mean to tell me that no one else drives over the speed limit on Rt. 40? PLEASE! I can only imagine the family of this officer reading these articles and thinking “Wow, all those times that he put his own life in danger to help a stranger; all those times he rescued people from car wrecks, administered life saving aid, and broke up abusive situations, all the dangerous criminals he got off of the streets, the guns and drugs he removed from the streets of Bmore, etc, etc; and THIS is what gets the media’s attention? Sad!” Most people couldnt handle the job of a Police or Firefighter. They risk their lives almost everyday, and see more tragedy in a week, than most of us will see in a lifetime. And for what? No one even recognizes their sacrifices just to perform a public service. When you are in trouble or in a dangerous situation, who do you call? Give them the respect they deserve. Shame on those who see them negatively…they are probably the first people to call the police when something goes wrong too! Most of the terrible crimes made by people in YOUR neighborhood doesnt even make the news every night. Most people in Baltimore have NO CLUE as to how bad their streets are. You should thank an officer for working to keep you safe. They see a lot more than you do at 4am, while you are sleeping safely in your warm home, they are out in a chase and gun battle with the hoodlum down the street. Get over it he drove 71 MPH. I drive 71 EVERY DAY!!!!

    1. Karen Portz says:

      You are exactly right. I think about the phone calls that I received in the middle of the night from him telling me what he just saw and how horrible he feels for the family of the victim who was shot. Or when children were murdered in front of their parents and he called to tell me to go kiss my kids and hold them tight. My family wasn’t called for a pres conference or to have our picture taken for the front page of the paper when he ran into a fire to save a family before fire got there. He loved his job. He made a difference. He went into law enforcement in a city which doesn’t have many nice things to say about the people who protect them but he never left.

  7. Michael says:

    First and foremost, I support the police department. However, when I used to live in Essex, police would fly up and down the backroads of the townhomes there. One evening my neighbors son was almost struck by one of their cars as he went to retrieve a ball for a younger child that had made its way into the road. After seeing this, I asked the cop if he would slow down on the roads. His response, demanding to see my liscence and then hastling me for 10 minutes or so until he gave me my identification back. Ridiculous. I understand there need for speeding when in imminent situations, but it’s the norm with Police Officers.

    Oh and my father is a retired officer, he would speed each and every time we were in a car. On the occasion he was pulled over, he’d flash his old badge, wink and nod, and the cop would let him go. That is until on one occasion we were in VA and he tried to do the same thing there, the cop there laughed at him and said, speeding is speeding regardless of your badge or title and then handed my father a ticket. Sweet justice, wish there were more Officers like that VA trooper.

  8. jack says:

    When was the last time an officer was written up for driving without a seatbelt, talking on a cell phone, or speeding. Yes they do it and sometimes they need to speed to respond to a true emergency. But sometimes they just do it because they can get away with it. It is terrible that the man died. If he would have been wearing his seatbelt he would probably still be alive, even though he was speeding. If he was not speeding but not wearing his seatbelt he probably would have been alive.

  9. Madison says:

    May your family find confront , may they look past everything and reflect on the life that was lost not what others say! Rest in peace.

  10. Bullfrog says:

    You are an ASS, anyone who says good when a decent human being is killed is an ASS! Enough said.

  11. David says:

    Just to throw this out, did anyone ever check to see if it was absolutely necessary for the firetruck to park in the left lane of a highway?could it have parked elsewhere? What was happening at the instant of the crash? Was there an active life and death emergency that justified having a firetruck continue to be parked in a travel lane of a highway? and did the firetruck have its flashing lights on? were the flares and cones put out? I may be wrong, I just don’t know the answers to these questions because the media hasn’t told me. All I am led to believe by the media sediment and online discussions such as this is that the police officer is a morally bad person, his death was 100% his fault and if he wasn’t speeding he would not have died and if he was wearing his seat belt he would not have died. How could anyone know this? Maybe the fact that a giant firetruck was parked on the highway has something to do with why he is dead. I just wonder if the firemen and city realize they were partially negligent in the officer’s death. After all, if the fire truck wasn’t parked there, he would very likely not be dead. Even if you wear a sea belt and have airbags, if you hit a parked giant truck that also doesn’t “give” when you hit it, making the physics and fatality rates even worse, the odds would say you would die and at the very least have a traumatic brain injury. Human brains are not designed to move at 40 50 60 or 70mph and suddenly stop and be thrown back. Even with a seat belt he may still have died, so let’s look at reality here, it is all about the firetruck. If your mother/ sister/ brother/ friend died or had a traumatic brain injury from hitting a firetruck parked in the highway that your loved one hit head on at 40 50 60 or 70mph, I’d bet you would fully or partly blame the firetruck? or at least ask the questions I proposed above. why is it that because he was a policeman, it is somehow so easily ignored that a firetruck was parked in the middle of a highway left travel lane possible unnecessarily. If there by chance is anything to any of these above questions then I think the City should cough up several million dollars to the family of the deceased officer and spare then the agony of an extended trial.

  12. Markc says:

    Why did WJZ have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get information on an accident? Portz was not responding to a call as has been written here. Unfortunately, the police cover-up anything involving one of their own. It is unfortunate that this officer was killed, but I’ll bet there were many others killed on the day this officer was killed. There is an industry that has built up on the police cult and they have a vested interested in keeping the this myth of hero. I have a great deal of sympathy to his family and friends, but it doesn’t justify creating a myth around his death. It does no one any good. Does anyone know the name of the sedan driver killed the same day that Chesley was killed in the same type of robbery? Why was the off-duty Chesley a hero and not the sedan driver?

  13. Karen Portz says:

    I don’t wish this pain or hurt on anyone. to everyone who tthinkgs they know what happens when that;s wonderful for you since we his family don’t even know. It’s called an accident. How many times a day do you do something and realize whow something could have happened and for whatever reason you were lucky enought that it didn’t. This is a person you are speaking so coldy of and I pray you and your family never have to go through anything like this. Funny thing is no matter what you have said if he was still here he would protect you.

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