President Barak Obama was scheduled to visit the campus of the Prince George’s County Community College, in Largo. Lifetime Member William Hawkins, working as a Public safety Aide for the Prince George’s County Fire / EMS Department, was driving his Fire/EMS Department vehicle on John Hanson Highway, Route 50, approaching the Capital Beltway, Route 95/495, when he noticed a Ford pickup truck in front of him weaving wildly across lanes as they took the sky ramp over the beltway. Hawkins, fearing for his safety and the safety of other motorists, radioed the incident into Public Safety Communications (PSC) and requested police assistance to stop the vehicle. He activated his emergency warning devices but kept a distance from the vehicle. Hawkins maneuvered his vehicle to match that of the weaving truck and to keep back traffic. The pair passed numerous police cars positioned on the side of the road and awaiting the order to block exits for the arrival of the presidential motorcade. He continued to keep PSC informed of what was happening. The truck, still on the beltway, was now approaching Allentown Road at speeds upwards of 80 mph. Suddenly, it veered into the median strip and then back onto the roadway, barely missing one of the police vehicles waiting for the presidential motorcade. Hawkins, continuing to operate alone, advised PSC that he was going to “try stopping this guy before he kills someone.” Using his vehicle to force the pickup truck onto the ramp and over a concrete curb, he proceeded to attempt its disablement. The truck weaved across several lanes of traffic as they approached the main gate of Andrews Air Force Base. After forcing the pick up onto a curb at a turn lane, Hawkins quickly exited his vehicle and approached it on foot and encountered the driver trying unsuccessfully to reverse the vehicle. He opened the driver’s door, yanked the keys from the ignition, and observed an 84-year-old driver, who, it was ultimately determined, was suffering a diabetic emergency. Hawkins called for fire and EMS units to provide care for the man.
For great personal risk, zeal, and ingenuity, William J. Hawkins is awarded a Silver Medal of Valor at the annual Public safety Valor Awards ceremony on April 24, 2013.