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The Carthage Press
  • Carthage man says he’s not at fault in crash

  • The Carthage man driving the minivan that was involved in a traffic crash with a Jasper County Sheriff's Office patrol car on Friday says he's not at fault, but the Carthage Police Department said a citation was issued for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle based on evidence and statements from witnesses at the intersection.
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  • The Carthage man driving the minivan that was involved in a traffic crash with a Jasper County Sheriff's Office patrol car on Friday says he's not at fault, but the Carthage Police Department said a citation was issued for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle based on evidence and statements from witnesses at the intersection.
    The accident involving a white minivan, driven by Cody Martin, Carthage, and a sheriff's patrol car, driven by Patrol Deputy Ernest Soole, a five-year veteran of the sheriff's office, happened just before 5:30 p.m. on Friday at the intersection of Garrison Avenue and Central Avenue.
    Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser said Soole suffered an injured arm, and even though the injury was not serious, he had not been cleared to return to duty as of Monday.
    Martin told The Carthage Press at first didn't think he was hurt, but he later had a friend take him to the hospital with pain in his arm, chest and neck.
    Kaiser said standard procedure in a traffic crash or other similar incident is for an officer's supervisor to look into it, then for the incident to be reviewed by command staff.
    Disciplinary action, if warranted, would become part of Soole's personnel file, which is not a public record, but otherwise the department is as transparent as possible about things like this.
    "The two most dangerous things we do is drive with our lights and sirens on and get our gun out of the holster," Kaiser said. "Fortunately we don't have to get the gun out of the holster very often, but we do drive with lights and siren every day. The officers understand the inherent risks of driving with lights and siren and we show that in our approach to the motoring public with the precautions we take.
    "Unfortunately sometimes we collide with something and we feel very badly when this happens. That's one reason we review all of these incidents to see if there's something we need to do better or different."
    Kaiser said Soole was responding to back up another Sheriff's deputy who was out with some people.
    Kaiser released the footage from Soole's dash camera, which shows Soole using his siren intermittently to pull out from McGregor Street onto Central Avenue going east.
    The traffic light facing Soole's vehicle is red in the video and Soole turns on his siren and pauses in the intersection before accelerating. Impact happened right after the officer started accelerating.  
    About five seconds passed on the video between the time Soole turned on his sirens at the intersection and the impact.
    Martin said he'd slowed to less than 20 miles per hours, then the light changed to green, and Martin continued through the intersection.
    Page 2 of 2 - Martin said at the instant he was in the middle of the intersection, the Jasper County sheriff's deputy, traveling east on Central, turned on his lights and siren and accelerated.
    The vehicles collided with such force that the sheriff's vehicle spun around and ended up pointed west.
    "I don't know where he was going, but if he had just waited one more second before turning on his lights, I would have been clear of the intersection and nothing would have happened," Martin said. "I have injuries too, my van is totaled. It's a 1999 and not much, but I had a lot of pride in that van."
    Dagnan said the report was not finished as of Monday, but one witness, who was also pointed north and stopped at the intersection, said she saw the lights and heard the siren in time to stop.
    Dagnan said a second witness said he heard the siren and had trouble determining where it was coming from, but stopped anyway.
    "The officer issued the citation based on the statements from all the other people at the intersection," Dagnan said. "The other people said they saw it in time to yield. He'll have to talk to the judge and he can certainly make his case to him."
    Martin said he was driving with his windows down and would have heard the siren and stopped if it was sounding before the officer entered the intersection.
    Martin said he was cited, but he's been asking businesses around the intersection if they had cameras trained on the intersection so he could use them to tell his side of the accident.
    He said the bank near the intersection told him they could only release their security footage to police officers with a warrant.
    "I was practically in front of him when he turned on his lights and siren," Martin said. "If he wins this case, it's only because he's a cop. I got a citation for it and that's no big deal, if I were at fault, I'd pay it, but my insurance is going to have to pay for a new patrol car. If he had been just another driver, he wouldn't win this case."

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