The dangers of police vehicle chases
A Kansas highway patrol trooper chasing a vehicle for a traffic violation was going “too fast” when he caused a crash that injured innocent bystanders, including children, according to a report by the Kansas Highway Patrol.
The trooper was going “too fast to safely clear the intersection on a red light” prior to the wreck about 10:30 a.m. June 29, at 29th Street and Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas.
Four people, including two boys ages 11 and 15, were hurt in the crash. The trooper was among the injured.
The crash highlighted the dangers of high-speed police chases over petty crimes, which continue to kill and injure innocent bystanders. Often, these chases play out on neighborhood streets and, like the one on June 29th, end in wrecks at intersections with limited visibility.
From 2007 to 2017 in Kansas, 57 people were killed and 1,294 were injured in crashes from police chases, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.
In police chase crashes in the Kansas City area since 2014, at least six innocent bystanders have been killed and others have been grievously injured.
Lt. Adam Winters, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol, said the agency could not provide any further comment on the June 29 crash as it is still an open investigation.
In the June 29 chase, Trooper Victor Ivory Jr. spotted an older-model silver Dodge Charger with what he suspected was a fake temporary tag traveling westbound on Interstate 70 near 18th Street Trafficway.
Ivory tried to pull over the car, but the driver sped away. Ivory activated his lights and sirens and gave chase. The pursuit began about 10:34 a.m., according to the crash report.
The chase wound its way west on I-70 and then north on Interstate 635, where the driver exited onto State Avenue. The chase continued to 22nd Street where the driver headed south to Minnesota Avenue. Once on Minnesota, the fleeing driver headed back west, the highway patrol said at the time.
At 29th Street, the fleeing driver cleared the intersection. But when Ivory entered the intersection against a red light about 10:37 a.m., he slammed into the passenger side of a 2004 Chevrolet Suburban. The Suburban was headed north through the intersection on a green light.
The fleeing driver got away.
Ivory suffered minor injuries and was driven to a hospital by another trooper. He is back on duty, the patrol said.
Three passengers in the Suburban — a 40-year-old man and two boys, ages 11 and 15 years old — were taken to a hospital. The 15-year-old boy had moderate injuries while the others had minor injuries, the patrol said.
The 39-year-old driver of the Suburban may have been injured, but refused treatment.
The crash report doesn’t say how fast the trooper and suspect were driving during the chase, nor how fast Ivory was going when he collided with the Suburban.
His patrol car, a white 2018 Dodge Charger, had “substantial damage to its front grille guard, bumper, hood, both fenders, engine compartment, and windshield.” Both front airbags as well as the driver-side knee airbag deployed during the crash.
The Suburban had “substantial impact damage to its passenger side doors, B-pillar, and rear passenger side window.” The vehicle sustained intrusion damage into the passenger compartment because it was struck in the passenger-side doors.
The intersection at 29th and Minnesota has limited visibility because of houses on the northeast and southeast corners, trees on both sides of the street, and parked cars near the intersection, the report said.
“Approaching cross traffic on North 29th Street is not visible to westbound traffic to nearly the stop line,” the report said. “Traffic traveling northbound on North 29th Street can not see cross traffic traveling westbound on Minnesota Avenue due to the house and trees on the southeast corner of the intersection.”
The Suburban’s driver and a witness told crash investigators that the trooper turned on his lights and sirens just prior to the crash. However, the trooper’s patrol video camera showed that was not the case and that they were activated throughout the chase.
The report concluded that when the Suburban’s driver entered the intersection, he could neither see nor hear the approaching patrol car. Moreover, the trooper was “traveling too fast for the road conditions and entered the intersection on a red traffic light.”
The report also found as a contributing factor in the crash that the Suburban’s driver did not have a valid Kansas driver’s license, so he “should not have been operating a motor vehicle.” Kansas had suspended his license for failure to pass the written driver’s license examination.