Why did deputy ignore accident?
To: Tom Dalessandri
On Friday Aug. 23, I followed a deputy sheriff who was driving a sheriff’s department van, westbound from Glenwood on I-70. We came upon the fatal accident that had obviously occurred only moments before. The deputy stopped and turned on his lights. However, after about 10 seconds, he turned off his lights and continued on to exit at Silt.
There was no other police presence at the accident at that time.
Citizens were stopping their cars, to direct traffic and get people to slow down. It was an incredibly dangerous situation.
Could you explain to me what higher priority that deputy could have had at that moment, that he could not have stopped and rendered assistance?
I am sure the injured and dying victims of that accident deserved better from the sheriff’s department.
Paul F. Cutright
Editor’s note: Mr. Cutright raises an important question. We sought an answer from Sheriff Dalessandri, who responded with the following letter.
On Monday, Aug. 26, I received an e-mail from Paul Cutright expressing his concerns with a sheriff’s transport deputy at the fatal accident that occurred on the eastbound lanes of I-70 last Friday. Mr. Cutright related that he had witnessed a sheriff’s transport van come upon the accident, stop and turn on his emergency flashers. After a short time, the transport van turned off its lights and proceeded westbound on I-70. Mr. Cutright indicated that no other law enforcement was on scene.
In researching the incident, I learned that the transport deputy had been monitoring the police radio prior to arriving on scene and heard a police car advise they were en route to the accident. When the transport deputy arrived on the scene of the accident he saw a person on the right side of westbound I-70 attempting to stop or slow down traffic. He activated his rear emergency lights and was able to slow down and eventually stop all westbound traffic.
At this point several individuals ran across the road to assist at the scene. The transport deputy then was motioned through by the person standing on the roadside. He continued westbound, and within a short distance, he saw a police vehicle responding eastbound to the accident scene.
Based on the transport deputy’s knowledge that emergency police cars were responding and arriving on scene, he decided to continue westbound instead of returning to the scene or staying on scene with his limited emergency vehicle equipment.
Thanks for inquiring and seeking clarification.
Thomas P. Dalessandri,
Garfield County sheriff
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