CHP officer has close call while citing driver

By Doane Yawger
The Merced Sun-Star

DELHI, Calif. — A California Highway Patrol officer escaped injury Monday morning when a truck-trailer sideswiped his patrol car while he was writing a speeding ticket by the shoulder of the road.

Officer Jeremy Key, a 10-year veteran, said the 1992 Freightliner driven by Tracey Price, 41, of Fallon, Nev., "was really close" and barely missed hitting the car just in front of the patrol unit.

Key said he was standing outside the guardrail when the 8:05 a.m. accident happened on southbound Highway 99 just north of Collier Road. He was about five feet from where the loaded hay truck hit the patrol car.

Price told Key he was trying to avoid another vehicle and didn't see the patrol car on the shoulder. At first Key thought the truck towing two hay trailers would overturn but Price was able to regain control.

Officer Shane Ferriera, public affairs officer for the Merced Area CHP office, said one of the most dangerous jobs of being a patrolman is working close to traffic.

Ironically, Ferriera and Key were paired together late one night about eight years ago when a drunken driver sideswiped their patrol unit on Highway 101 in Ventura County. Neither officer was hurt.

Ferriera said officers are trained if they are writing citations to always hop over the other side of the guardrail to be safe.

"The goal is to come home safe at the end of the day," Ferriera said.

In a separate incident, Ferriera said he was investigating an accident on a rainy night when a hydroplaning vehicle rammed into his patrol unit. He was not injured in that accident.

"I was doing what I was told to do and today it came in handy. I was halfway through writing the ticket. The woman's eyes got as big as they can get. I finished (the ticket) and she got on her way," Key said.

Ferriera said Price was southbound on the highway in the slow lane at about 55 mph when the truck drifted onto the right shoulder. The right side of the truck stuck the left side of the patrol car, which sustained moderate left side damage.

Alcohol was not a factor in the collision, Ferriera said.

Copyright 2007 The Merced Sun-Star
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