WASHINGTON — A D.C. police officer was clinging to life last night after a freak mishap during a Good Friday procession on a Northwest Washington street, authorities said.
Officer Wayne Pitt was blocking traffic for the parade of worshipers shortly after 9 p.m. Friday when he realized that a motor scooter was about to breach a police line at Mount Pleasant and Lamont streets, police said.
Pitt, 57, got out of his police cruiser to stop the scooter operator but realized that he had left his car in gear, police said.
What followed is still under investigation.
Police believe that Pitt rushed back to the car to try to put it in park but that the vehicle continued forward, striking the scooter, a parked car and finally a tree.
Pitt was hurt, but the extent of his injuries did not become clear until yesterday, when he underwent additional surgery at Washington Hospital Center, police said.
The officer is in "very critical condition," Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman, said last night.
Pitt, assigned to the 3rd Police District, has been a D.C. officer for almost five years. He was a police officer in North Carolina for 20 years.
Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who represents the area where the officer was injured, said that once again, impatience appeared to be at the root of a traffic accident in the District. "There are just too many people on the street who won't slow down," Graham said.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who went to meet with Pitt's family, said the department hopes for the best. "We pray for his full recovery," she said in a statement.