Texas officer 'fighting for his life' after collision with 18-wheeler

The truck had made a U-turn in front of the officer's patrol car, police said

By Kelsey Bradshaw
Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin police officer was critically injured early Wednesday after his patrol vehicle slammed into an 18-wheeler while responding to a call in East Austin.

The officer, who had not been identified Wednesday afternoon, was headed west in the 7800 block of FM 969, near Decker Lane, in response to a "priority 1" call at around 2:10 a.m., Austin police Cpl. Destiny Silva said.

She only described the priority 1 call as one that needed to be immediately attended to and did not say what the call was about. Such calls can include reported shootings or other critical incidents.

As the officer was driving, the 18-wheeler made a U-turn in front of the patrol vehicle. The police vehicle and the 18-wheeler collided, Silva said.

The officer and his vehicle were pinned under the 18-wheeler. Police, Austin-Travis County EMS medics and Austin fire officials responded to crash and tried to treat the officer at the scene.

The officer was taken to a local hospital, Silva said, but she did not provide details on his injuries. Whether the officer had lights and sirens on or was wearing a seat belt remains under investigation.

The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured and remained at the scene of the crash. It has not been determined if any charges will be filed.

"APD is a family," Silva said. "When someone is seriously injured like this or sick, it affects each and every one of us."

She asked that the public keep the officer and his family, the driver of the 18-wheeler and the police department in their thoughts.

"We have an officer who is part of our family who is at a local hospital right now fighting for his life," she said.

The officer has been with the department for nine years.

Police Chief Joe Chacon and Austin Mayor Steve Adler both offered statements of support and solidarity on Twitter.

"Folks, I'm asking for prayers for our @Austin_Police family today. One of our officers is in bad shape after a very bad car crash. Thoughts and prayers for him and his family are very much appreciated," Chacon posted.

Adler tweeted: "The entire city and I are pulling for an APD officer, seriously injured on-duty in a traffic collision. Please pray for him and his family this morning."

Traffic poses a particularly high risk of danger to police officers. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, as many as 174 line-of-duty deaths have occurred across the United States in 2021, with 37 of them — or about 21% — related to traffic, including auto and motorcycle crashes, being struck as pedestrians and vehicular assault.

That compares to only 35 deaths from shootings, according to that same data set for this year.

Among some of the most recent deadly traffic incidents involving Central Texas police officers was the 2018 death of Round Rock officer Charles Whites, who was struck by a driver while directing traffic on Interstate 35 near the scene of a pedestrian death.

Austin police's two most recent officer deaths in the line of duty happened on Austin-area roads.

Senior police officer Amir Abdul-Khaliq, a father of five and a 17-year veteran on the force, died in September 2016 after being struck by a driver trying to cut through a funeral procession he was escorting on his patrol motorcycle through North Austin.

Three years earlier, 42-year-old police Lt. Clay Crabb was killed in on his way to check a low water crossing in heavy rain. Investigators at the time said he lost control of his police cruiser, hydroplaned and veered into oncoming traffic before he collided into a pickup truck on U.S. 290 near Sawyer Ranch Road near Dripping Springs.

As investigators look into Wednesday's collision, police are asking that anyone with more information about the incident call 512-974-8111.

©2021 www.statesman.com. Visit statesman.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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