Rookie NOPD officer dies in crash hours after his first shift

The New Orleans Times Picayune

NEW ORLEANS A 21-year-old, off-duty New Orleans Police officer died early Tuesday morning in a single-vehicle accident in Hammond.

Another man, a 22-year-old deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's office, is in a hospital with serious injuries.

Matthew Schmit, of Ponchatoula, completed hours earlier his first official shift with the NOPD, following his graduation Friday from the recruit class, said Blair Foster, spokeswoman for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Department.

Schmit was driving a vehicle eastbound on General Ott Road around 3:18 a.m. Tuesday and entered a sharp curve in the roadway at a high rate of speed, according to the Tangipahoa Sheriff's Office.

Schmit's vehicle left the roadway, hit a culvert and flipped several times, the office said. Both Schmit and his passenger, Eric Valenti of Hammond, were ejected from the vehicle.

Schmit was pronounced dead at the scene. Valenti was taken to North Oaks Hospital for treatment, the sheriff's office said.

Copyright 2007 New Orleans Times Picayune

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