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Motorcyclist killed after slamming into patrol car


Associated Press
June 30, 2003


MERRILLVILLE, Ind. -- A motorcyclist slammed into a speeding police squad car on U.S. 30, throwing him into the air and killing him, police and witnesses said.

Two squad cars were on their way to a call of shots fired Sunday night with their lights and sirens on when the motorcycle struck the driver's side of one of the cars at an intersection, Lake County police Cpl. Glen Lang said.

Anthony J. Jagiela, 28, of Merrillville was taken to The Methodist Hospitals in Merrillville, where he was pronounced dead, the Lake County coroner's office said.

A witness to the crash, Ed Kurzeija of Lansing, Ill., said one of the squad cars went through the intersection west of I-65 without slowing down for a stop signal.

'He just hit the guy at full speed and he went airborne. He landed on his head,' Kurzeija said. 'I've never seen anything like it. It was like they were drag racing, and then boom.'

Information about the injuries to the officer driving the car was not available today. A message seeking comment was left at the Merrillville Police Department.

The shots-fired call to which the officers were responding was a suicide, the coroner's office said.
 

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That is horrible. Local procedures for emergency vehicle operation requires that we slow to a speed that allows us to stop if neccessary, even running Code 3 lights and siren, we still have to assume no one hears us, and most of the time they don't, or get freaked out and don't know what to do. I almost had a lady get creamed as I was sitting in the middle of an intersection stopping traffic for our ladder as it was barrelling through, decided she wanted to go around me and had to stop her by laying on the siren and driving in front of her to block her path. Next thing she saw was a 50k lb piece of metal go flying in front of her.

I don't know what the SOP's are in the area that that happened, or if procedures are different for patrol cars responding vs. fire apparatus, but in any case, the officer was in the wrong, whether he had the right of way or not. Even Code 3, I would never go blind though an intersection responding ... ever.

But then again, it doesn't say anything about the speed of either vehicle. As we all know, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to accurately judge the speed of an oncoming m/c. The officer may have seen him and misjudged his speed. None of us know either side of the story, so I can't really say who was in the wrong but as far as the witnesses report, the officer not slowing for the i/s was a big mistake. But even more then again ... who am I to judge.

My condolences to the family and friends.
 

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Indiana law requires that drivers of emergency vehicles operate their vehicles with due care. According to the witness, it sounds like that officer is in deep doo doo.
 
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