GJ officer broadsided in pursuit

A Grand Junction police car was T-boned at the corner of Fifth Street and Pitkin Avenue Wednesday afternoon.

A Grand Junction police car was struck broadside by another vehicle Wednesday afternoon as the officer tried to stop a van that ran a red light in downtown, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

The accident happened around 1:30 p.m. at the intersection of Fifth Street and Pitkin Avenue.

State Patrol Cpl. Denny O’Leary said the officer was driving east on Pitkin behind a van when the van ran a red light at Fifth Street. He said the officer activated his emergency lights and siren to pursue the van and was hit on the driver’s side of his car by a silver Pontiac that entered the intersection driving south on Fifth when the light turned green.

Neither the officer nor the woman driving the Pontiac was injured, O’Leary said. He declined to release their names, saying he still was putting together an accident report. He said the woman is from Grand Junction.

O’Leary said the driver of the Pontiac was issued a ticket for failing to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle.

“Really, the rest of (the accident) is under investigation,” he said, noting he had reviewed the patrol car’s in-car video twice Tuesday afternoon but wanted to review it some more.

The Pontiac sustained significant front-end damage. The patrol car’s driver’s-side front and rear doors were damaged, but the car was driveable, O’Leary said.

He said the driver of the van that ran the light got away.

Clarence Locke, 58, was panhandling in Whitman Park at Fifth and Pitkin when the accident happened. He said he was holding a sign on Fifth Street facing southbound traffic when he heard the officer activate the siren on his patrol car. He said he turned around and saw the officer accelerate and run the red light. A car heading south on Fifth proceeded through the green light and broadsided the police car, he said.

Locke said over time he’s seen a lot of emergency vehicles in the area, and they usually slow down when they’re approaching an intersection and facing a red light. But that didn’t happen this time, he said.

“He (the officer) just blew into the intersection without slowing down at all,” Locke said.


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