Ohio officer hurt when cruiser is rear-ended


Copyright 2006 The Columbus Dispatch
All Rights Reserved 

A man who hasn't had a driver's license for 19 years injured himself and a police officer when he rear-ended a cruiser on I-270 in Dublin yesterday, authorities said.

Both men were hospitalized after the crash, which occurred at 3:30 p.m. in the westbound lanes of I-270, between the Rt. 33 and Sawmill Road exits.

Dublin Officer John Wright was hit while parked in his cruiser on the left berm, said Trooper Robert Curry, of the State Highway Patrol's Delaware post.

Wright, who had been clocking highway traffic, had just returned to his cruiser when he saw a Ford Thunderbird closing in on him in his rearview mirror.

The car, driven by Ronald E. Bell Sr., 78, veered off the interstate and slammed into the cruiser, pushing it into the median, Curry said.

Both men were taken by ambulance to Riverside Methodist Hospital, Dublin police spokeswoman Cristie Keller-Wilt said.

Wright was in stable condition and Bell was in guarded but stable condition last night, a hospital spokesman said. Neither had injuries that were thought to be life-threatening.

Bell, of 4286 E. Livingston Ave., is charged with failure to maintain an assured clear distance and driving without a license, Curry said.

He has not had a license for 19 years, though authorities didn't say whether it had been revoked or expired. Bell's 1988 Ford Thunderbird was registered in his name, records show.

Wright, 43, has been a Dublin officer for 18 years, according to Dispatch archives. In 1991, he was awarded the department's Medal of Valor after saving residents from an apartment fire.

Maureen Kocot of WBNS-10TV contributed to this story.

February 21, 2006

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