WHEELING - A police officer speeding through North Wheeling in response to a report of gunshots Monday collided with another vehicle, sending the cruiser smashing into a utility pole and landing both drivers in a local hospital.
The officer, whose identity was not released, was responding to a report of possible shots fired in Warwood around 11:45 a.m. Monday. The sound turned out to be that of a car engine backfiring.
Traffic in the northbound lane of Main Street was backed up, and the officer had the cruiser lights and sirens activated while he tried to enter the southbound lane near the intersection with Fifth Street. While switching lanes, however, he struck the rear of a black Ford Taurus.
Photo by Tyler Reynard
Wheeling police Sgt. William Nolan, from left, Deputy Chief Martin Kimball and Chief Shawn Schwertfeger stand near a demolished police cruiser following a crash Monday morning near the intersection of North Main and Fifth streets in North Wheeling.
The collision propelled the cruiser across the southbound lane; it struck a utility pole head on, then spun clockwise and toppled a brick pillar posted at the top of the driveway of the nearby Riverview Towers. The cruiser was entirely on the sidewalk facing northeast by the time it came to a stop.
The airbag deployed and the disoriented officer exited the demolished vehicle and stumbled over shards of the wreckage on the street, witnesses said. He was directed back into the driver's seat of the cruiser and then fainted.
The Wheeling Fire Department transported the officer and the driver of the other vehicle to a local hospital with undisclosed injuries. The woman driving the other vehicle was not identified either, but there was a handicap placard hanging from her car's rearview mirror.
Wheeling police officers diverted northbound traffic onto side streets to bypass the accident site, while motorists traveling south were forced to wait in their vehicles while West Virginia State Police troopers investigated the crash scene.
An Ohio County sheriff's deputy also was at the scene, documenting the wreck. Ace Garage towed both vehicles from the crash site.