Woman cleared in crash with police car

A Grand Junction police car was t-boned at the corner of Fifth and Pitkin Avenue Wednesday afternoon. Witnesses at the scene said the police car turned on its siren and lights as it accelerated east on Pitkin just as the light turned green for cars traveling south on Fifth. A Pontiac broad-sided the cruiser. No one was hurt.

The Colorado State Patrol withdrew the ticket it issued last week to a Grand Junction woman who struck a Grand Junction police patrol car broadside as the officer tried to stop a van that ran a red light downtown.

Capt. Ed Clark said Wednesday that upon further investigation, troopers didn’t believe they could show beyond a reasonable doubt that 19-year-old Jessica Kriegshauser was at fault when her car struck 32-year-old Raymond Salmon’s vehicle. He emphasized that revoking the ticket is not an indication that Salmon was at fault, either.

“This one is gray,” he said. “There’s not a bright line.”

The Feb. 24 crash happened when Salmon, trailing a van on eastbound Pitkin Avenue, pursued the van after it ran a red light at Fifth Street. Kriegshauser was stopped at a red light on southbound Fifth and entered the intersection when the light on Fifth turned green, and she collided with Salmon’s vehicle.

No one was injured in the accident, which severely damaged Kriegshauser’s car and crumpled the driver’s-side front and rear doors on Salmon’s vehicle.

The State Patrol issued Kriegshauser a ticket that same day for failing to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle. But two witnesses interviewed by The Daily Sentinel said Salmon accelerated through the red light, and one witness who was in the lane next to Kriegshauser said she didn’t hear Salmon’s siren or see his emergency lights until the collision occurred.

Clark said troopers decided to withdraw the ticket after interviewing those witnesses. He said the accident remains under investigation, but he didn’t anticipate the State Patrol issuing any other tickets.

“Had everyone been a little more alert, this could have been prevented,” he said.

Police Chief John Camper said the department and Salmon are “very much in support” of the State Patrol revoking the ticket.

“Although Ray had his lights and sirens on, he had just turned them on,” Camper said. “I think all of us agree in a perfect world (Kriegshauser) would have seen the lights and heard the siren. But he had just turned them on, and she didn’t have a chance to see that, and we understand that.”

Camper said Deputy Police Chief John Zen showed Salmon’s patrol car in-car video of the accident to Kriegshauser and her family.

He said police are investigating the accident, as they do with all crashes involving officers.

“We will review the facts through the chain of command to determine if there’s fault or if there’s things that should have been done differently,” Camper said.


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