07/10/2013

Idaho cop driving wrong way on urgent call hits SUV

The occupants of the SUV and the officer were all treated and released; the officer who made the urgent call was also okay

By Katie Terhune
The Idaho Statesman

BOISE — A police officer who struck an SUV with a patrol car Tuesday morning after turning the wrong way down a one-way street was responding to an urgent call for help from another officer, police said.

The officer was driving south on 13th Street when his car hit an SUV that was traveling west on Idaho Street. The SUV's two occupants and the officer were taken to a local hospital, where all three were treated and released, according to a description of events in a Tuesday afternoon press release.

A call for help had been issued at 9:21 a.m., three minutes before the wreck, by another officer at 13th and Myrtle, police said. That officer reported that he was by himself and involved in a fight with several people. He said the situation was urgent, and requested immediate backup, police said.

Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said that officer was trying to break up a public fight when the people involved began to turn on him. Alone and concerned for his own safety, the officer called for immediate backup.

The officer who crashed was trying to reach the location of the fight when he turned south down the northbound street, Hightower said.

Other officers in the area were able to reach the location of the officer involved in the fight. He was not hurt, Hightower said. Ultimately, none of the people who were fighting were arrested, because that officer left the scene to assist with the crash at 13th and Idaho.

However, charges may still be pursued against the people involved in the fight, Hightower said.

Idaho Code allows emergency responders to drive the wrong way down a one-way under special circumstances. The driver must be responding to an emergency situation, have lights and sirens on, and be operating with due caution.

The officer was on an emergency call, and witness accounts as well as other evidence suggest that his lights and sirens were on when he crashed, Hightower said.

Investigators will work to determine if he was operating with due caution.

"This crash will be scrutinized," she said.

Garden City police are leading the investigation, and will recommend if any charges should be filed in the case. Boise police crash reconstruction experts are also investigating.

BPD's internal affairs office will determine if policies, training and procedure were violated in the wreck.

"Whenever there's an officer involved in any kind of situation like this, there's a methodical review for lessons learned," Hightower said. "Regardless of who is found to be at fault, it occurred. Is there something the department can do to prevent it in the future?"

The officer who hit the SUV suffered minor injuries, she said. He is recuperating at home, but will remain on duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

The conclusions of the Garden City investigation will be made public following review by a prosecutor.

Copyright 2013 The Idaho Statesman


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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