Mo. police chief injured in crash with bus

By Joel Currier
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WELLSTON, Mo. — Police Chief Robert Cossia was badly hurt and one of his officers
injured when their unmarked car collided with a Metro bus Tuesday evening.

The empty bus was southbound on Keinlen Avenue about 6:30 p.m. when it hit the
police car, which was headed east on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Wellston.

Sgt. Ryan Burkhardt of the Missouri Highway Patrol said Cossia sustained
serious head injuries when the bus crashed into the driver's side of the car he
was driving. He and the other officer were taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The injuries to the bus driver and the police officer were said to be not
life-threatening. The bus driver was being treated at Forest Park Hospital.

Wellston Mayor Frank McNeil, interviewed at Barnes, described Cossia as a
tough, hard-working police chief. "He's a wonderful chief," McNeil said. "He
stays on top of his men on every shift."

McNeil said the second officer hurt in the crash is Matthew Richardet, 30. He
has been with the department for two years, McNeil said.

Burkhardt said Cossia was making a left turn at the time of the collision. The
officers were headed to Pine Lawn to assist in a call about a burglary in
progress. A second police car was behind the one Cossia was driving but was not

He said the Missouri Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the crash.

Metro spokeswoman Dianne Williams said the bus had no passengers and was out of
service and headed back to the Metro garage on DeBaliviere Avenue.

Marcus Oliver, 36, of north St. Louis County, said he was stopped at the
intersection at the time of the crash. He said the police car had its flashing
lights on when the vehicles collided but the bus had the green light.

Jay Combs, 23, of Wellston, witnessed the crash and said the police car's
flashing lights were on but the bus was halfway through the intersection when
the patrol car pulled through.

"It's hard to say who was at fault," Combs said. "It just happened too fast."

Cossia has been with the Wellston police since early last year. He has been
running the department since the end of the year, when the city fired Chief
Albert Keys.

Cossia has been involved in high-profile incidents in his previous work for two
other north St. Louis County departments — Kinloch and Pine Lawn.

In November 2003, Cossia was an officer with Pine Lawn when he shot and killed
a 17-year-old who sped away during a traffic stop. Police later said they found
a handgun in the teen's car.

In September 2005, during a traffic stop in Kinloch, Cossia shot and wounded a
passenger who tried to grab his gun from its holster. Authorities who
investigated said the shooting appeared to have been justified.

Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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