Police: Alcohol a likely factor in high-speed accident that killed officer

Officer Down: Gary Davis - [Bloomfield Twp, Michigan]

Crash investigation continues

Web-posted May 15, 2004

Police: Alcohol a likely factor in high-speed accident that killed officer

Of The Daily Oakland Press

Police are still waiting for toxicology reports to determine whether a 21-year-old Royal Oak man was drunk when his auto slammed into a police car, killing an officer and seriously injuring another man.
According to Lt. Gerry Scherlinck of the Troy Police Department, speed and alcohol appear to be factors in the accident that claimed the life of Gary Davis, 36, of Ortonville. Davis, a 12-year-veteran of the Bloomfield Township Police Department, had just arrested a suspected drunken driver and was leaving the scene when his car was hit.

"We're pretty convinced alcohol was a factor," Scherlinck said. "But speed was, too. Our investigation continues."

The accident happened about 3 a.m. Thursday on Interstate 75 between Coolidge and Crooks roads in Troy.

According to police, Davis had pulled over a 26-year-old Madison Heights man and called for backup. The man was arrested and placed, wearing handcuffs and a seatbelt, in the back of his cruiser.

Then, Davis - with his vehicle on the right shoulder of southbound I-75 - tried to cross several lanes of traffic to enter a turnabout in the freeway's median to head north. A yellow Ford Focus traveling south then struck the driver's side of Davis' car.

Witnesses say the Focus was traveling at a high speed - possibly near 100 mph. Scherlinck said officers reconstructing the accident can't confirm that. He also said it appears the driver of the Focus did not attempt to brake, as there were no tire marks.

Officers examined the videotapes in all three police cruisers and all three had their overhead lights on. The accident was not caught on any camera, though.

"It was just barely out of view," Scherlinck said.

Officers are also working with Ford Motor Co. engineers to see if any information can be gleaned from the Focus.

The names of the driver of the Focus and the suspected drunk driver are not being released, pending possible arraignments. Both were in critical condition Friday afternoon, but Scherlinck said the driver of the Focus was conscious and communicative. Both men are expected to survive.

Scherlinck said he didn't know if, or when, either man would be charged.

"Obviously, our hope is that (both men) continue to recover," he said. "Then, we'll deal with any charges."

Meanwhile, Bloomfield Township police officers are still reeling from Davis' death.

While Chief Jeffrey Werner said Friday was a better day than Thursday, Davis' funeral on Monday will likely bring on even more grief. He said the outpouring of support from the community has helped greatly.

"We've been so well-supported," Werner said. "It's been amazing. We're so grateful for what people have done."

Students at Lahser High School in Bloomfield Hills were also mourning Davis' death. Davis had served for three years as the school liaison officer there.

Assistant Principal Garry Anderson said students were dealing with their grief and many planned to attend the funeral.

"There were some tears, but then students started thinking about ways to help," Anderson said.

Students signed a banner that will be presented to Davis' wife, Nicole, a 13-year veteran of the Waterford Township Police Department. While the couple had no children, Anderson said, Davis treated Lahser's students as his own.

"He was always willing to listen," he said. "He was involved in their lives. The kids knew he was always there for them, and he treated them with respect."

A 2-foot tall metal sculpture of a knight, by a Lahser student, will be dedicated to Davis. The sculpture, which will be displayed at his funeral, will be on view permanently in the school, said Principal Jane Makulski.

"He touched a lot of lives here," she said.

Davis' family will receive visitors from 1-9 p.m. Sunday in the Riverside Chapel at Simpson-Modetz Funeral Home, 5630 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Mount Zion Church, 4900 Maybee Road in Clarkston.

Memorials may be made to MI Cops or to the Thin Blue Line of Michigan.

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