High-Speed Chase Ends in Auto Accident, Death of Two in Louisville, Kentucky

On Friday, January 13th, one passenger and one pedestrian were killed in a car accident during a high-speed chase. The owner of the car moved it onto the street and left it running while he finished getting ready, and when he went back outside the car was gone. He called police who located the car and attempted to stop it. Rather than stopping the driver took off, leading the officer on a short chase down Dixie Highway. Three minutes later, the car struck a pedestrian and a utility pole, and the two individuals in the car were ejected. One of the victims was the pedestrian who had been walking to class at National City College. The other fatality was one of the occupants of the car. Because both people were ejected from the vehicle during the accident, it is unclear whether he was the driver or passenger. The other occupant was taken to the hospital with undisclosed injuries.

Accidents such as these raise questions as to whether or not high-speed police chases should be allowed. Louisville Metro Police are supposed to consider several factors before embarking on a high-speed chase. First is whether or not the driver of the car is a felon. Because the car was stolen and it was fleeing from police, the driver could be considered a felon. Next an officer needs to decide whether apprehending the occupants of the vehicle immediately outweighs the risks involved in high-speed chases. Road conditions, the amount of traffic, and the assumed offense are all factors in this decision. Standard procedures in this type of situation include placing the officer on paid administrative leave while the accident is investigated and confirming the officer followed policy and did not commit a criminal act.

In the colder weather of winter it is very tempting to turn your vehicle on to warm up before driving it, just like the owners of the stolen car did Friday. But running cars are easy targets for thieves. Even if the car is locked, a thief can easily break the window and drive away. Not only is it unsafe to leave your car running, it is also against the law in Kentucky, even on your own property. The law states “No person operating or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition and removing the key.” Whether this law factors into this accident remains to be seen.

Several decisions came into play in this unfortunate accident. The car owner decided to leave his car running unattended. The thieves decided for whatever reason that they needed a car. The officer decided it was safe enough and worthwhile to pursue the stolen vehicle. And now two people have lost their lives. A warm car, a mode of transportation and not wanting to get caught, not letting the bad guy get away — none of these seem worth losing lives over.

If you or someone you know have been involved in a car accident, please contact a Kentucky personal injury attorney such as Steve Frederick to discuss the specifics of the case and determine the proper course of action.

Sources:

Police chase ends with 2 dead; The Courier-Journal; Joseph Lord; January 14, 2012

Two dead, including one pedestrian, after police pursuit on Dixie Highway ends in crash; WHAS11.com; Maureen Hagrman; January 13, 2012

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