Four Injured In Cruiser Crash

BELLAIRE – Things went from bad to worse Tuesday night for an already shorthanded Bellaire Police Department when two officers were involved in a rear-end collision with each other.

Two people who were in custody also were hurt in the accident, according to Lt. Dick Flanagan, but none of the four’s injuries appeared to be life-threatening, he said. The accident occurred just after 10 p.m. on the 48th Street entrance ramp to Ohio 7 north.

Police identified the passengers under arrest as Chris Bennett and Autumn Preston, both of Barnesville. According to Flanagan, they were on their way to the Belmont County Jail from the Belmont Community Hospital after they allegedly were involved in a fight at 41st and Franklin streets.

Flanagan declined to identify the officers involved in the accident. He said the cruisers were on the entrance ramp to Ohio 7 north when Bennett began spitting on the officer in the lead cruiser.

The officer in that car made a sudden move to pull over, causing the second cruiser to strike the vehicle from behind, Flanagan said.

Ambulances transported the two officers, Bennett and Preston to Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling for treatment.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is in charge of the investigation.

It’s unclear how much time the officers will miss, but their absence will undoubtedly be felt in the community.

Bellaire’s police department consists of Chief Mike Kovalyk and eight other officers, two of whom already were off due to injury.