11/25/2007

Cincinnati officer critically injured in crash during pursuit

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CINCINNATI A Cincinnati Police officer remains in critical condition this afternoon after he was injured trying to help stop a vehicle pursued by sheriff's deputies on Interstate 75.

Sgt. Bryce Bezdek, 30, who was air-lifted to University Hospital after the accident, suffered head and chest injuries, said Lt. Mark Briede, spokesman for the Cincinnati Police Department.

“There is no change from last night,’ said Briede on Sunday afternoon.

The crash occurred about 4:30 p.m. Saturday between Hopple Street and the Western Hills viaduct, closing all southbound lanes on I-75 near Harrison Avenue.

According to Briede, Hamilton County sheriff's deputies spotted a red Saturn sport utility vehicle on Ronald Reagan Highway and began pursuing it based on a complaint involving drugs being used in a bigg’s parking lot on Colerain Avenue.

The driver, Carmella Duley, 41 of Covington was pulled over on the highway but sped off as police approached.

Duley, as well as her passengers, has had many run-ins with police especially for alleged drug-abuse crimes.

As she took off, deputies said they chased her and the continued south on I-75 with the SUV traveling erratically, weaving in and out of traffic lanes.

Cincinnati police positioned themselves with stop sticks, which they think punctured the vehicle's tires at Hopple Street, Briede said.

However, the vehicle didn't stop and continued south.

The sport utility vehicle then hit a pick-up, which hit the officer's car, Briede said.

"He was outside of his vehicle, getting ready to place stop sticks, when we believe he was struck by his vehicle, which was moved by the impact," Briede said.

An 8-year-old in the pick up truck was injured. The extent of her injuries were not available Sunday.

The sport utility vehicle continued on to the lower deck of the Western Hills Viaduct, where it stopped. Duley and her passengers were taken into custody.

All three were being held without bond Sunday morning as charges are being sorted out. Warrants had been issued in the past for some of them.

One passenger Pamela Robinson, 40 of Fort Mitchell, was seen injecting heroin in the Colerain Avenue bigg’s before the chase on Saturday, according to surveillance video tape reviewed by police.

Robinson had been arrested in Hamilton County in August after a drug investigation at a Taco Bell parking lot.

In the August case, she was accused of providing a false name and Social Security number to police. She later told police she did so because there several warrants out for her arrest.

The other passenger, James Willman, 53 was seen holding a syringe on the bigg’s surveillance camera. He was arrested on charges of drug abuse and possession of drug instruments.

Over the summer, Willman was arrested after a police dog alerted officers that there were drugs inside a vehicle that Willman had been selling perfume out of at a Walgreen’s parking lot.

A warrant had been listed for his arrest after the August incident.

Copyright 2007 Cincinnati Enquirer

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