Trooper hurt in 1-car crash, cause unknown

Sarah Ovaska, Benjamin Niolet, Staff Writers
The News & Observer
Copyright 2006 The News and Observer

DURHAM- A state Highway Patrol car caught fire following a crash late Monday afternoon on a stretch of a busy highway, sending a trooper to Duke Hospital with serious injuries.

The trooper Bryan T. Kirkpatrick, 32, was held at the hospital for observation and tests late Monday night.

Investigators don't know what caused Kirkpatrick to crash his Crown Victoria at U.S. 15-501 and Hillsborough Road in Durham, said Renee Hoffman, spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, which encompasses the state Highway Patrol. The car burst into flames following the wreck, and Kirkpatrick was pulled out of the burning vehicle.

"His vehicle was the only vehicle involved, and we simply don't know," Hoffman said.

The wreck's cause is being looked at by a Highway Patrol accident reconstruction team which hopes to talk with Kirkpatrick and witnesses to the fiery crash, Hoffman said.

The trooper was pulled out of the burning car and rushed to Duke Hospital, according to a news release from the state Highway Patrol. His injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

After the wreck, the badly burned car sat blackened and charred high on an embankment at the edge of a motel parking lot.

Authorities closed the northbound on-ramp to the highway as they took measurements and photographs of the scene. Investigators also took measurements of a front loader at the edge of the parking lot.

Kirkpatrick has been a trooper since September 2005 and worked for five years before that as a telecommunicator for the agency. 
State troopers and other emergency workers examine a Highway Patrol cruiser after it crashed in Durham on Monday afternoon. The trooper driving the car was taken to Duke Hospital for observation and tests. 

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