Officer Down: Police Officer George Brentar
Officer Down: George Brentar - [Euclid, Ohio]
Euclid officer succumbs to burning car
Brie Zeltner and Maggi Martin
EUCLID, Ohio — A 22-year veteran of the Euclid police force died Wednesday evening when his car skidded into a pole and caught fire on an entrance ramp to Interstate 90.
George Brentar, 49, was trying to catch up to a speeder on North Lakeland Boulevard, just north of I-90, when his car hydroplaned and the right rear end hit a pole. The car immediately burst into flames, Sgt. Andy Veres said.
Brentar was looking for speeders about 5:40 p.m. near East 200th Street, Veres said, but was not chasing the car that he was going to pull over.
Two off-duty police officers from Erie, Pa., who saw the accident while driving on I-90, stopped and tried to pull Brentar from the burning car, but they could not get close enough.
Firefighters from Cleveland, Euclid and South Euclid also could do nothing to help.
"The car was just too fully engulfed in flames," Veres said.
Officers lose control of their cars occasionally, but Veres said has never seen an accident like this.
Jerry Bruss, Brentar's neighbor in Mentor, said Wednesday night that Brentar was "the ultimate family man."
"Everything he did was with his kids," Bruss said. Brentar's two children are in ninth and seventh grade.
Bruss said Brentar was known for organizing neighborhood campouts in which kids set up tents between homes, played games and had a bonfire.
"He was always trying to bring everybody together," Bruss said.
The family declined comment.
Police blocked the East 222nd ramp to I-90 for several hours while officers investigated the accident.
They believe the crash was caused by a slippery road.
"We're human. Sometimes it doesn't take much with the rain like this and oil on the road," Veres said.
News researcher Jo Ellen Corrigan contributed to this story.
Copyright 2007 The Plain Dealer