Another trooper crash prompting questions

June 3, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
The state Highway Patrol is investigating yet another crash involving one of its own.This time, it happened in the Cleveland County community of Shelby where a trooper had to be hospitalized.

It happened the same day as a trooper-involved wreck in Randolph County and nearly two weeks after a collision in Guilford County that killed two people.

Last month, an I-Team investigation revealed in 2009 the Highway Patrol was involved in 360 accidents -- an average of nearly one every day of the year.

The Highway Patrol says it always reviews every crash, but it won't necessarily make changes in response to recent wrecks.

In the latest crash involving the state Highway Patrol, a trooper was trapped in his squad car for nearly an hour.

Investigators say he was driving over a hill, hit another vehicle backing out of a driveway and then hit a utility pole all because of a speeder.

"This was not a chase, this was a traffic enforcement response," Sgt. Jeff Gordon said.

In the patrol's words, if a driver knowingly fails to stop, then and only then, do they call it a chase.

But it was a speeder that convinced the trooper in a double fatal wreck in Guilford County to reach speeds as high as 120 mph.

Because it investigates every crash, the patrol stands by its policies and training saying accidents are part of what's always been a risky job.

"We do drive for a living and we are going to be involved in collisions," Gordon said. "I can't answer whether there's a right speed or a wrong speed; it's up to each individual trooper to make that determination. However, they look at various different variables."

Variables that troopers are trained to consider in fractions of seconds.

The patrol says its troopers drove 44 million miles last year alone, so it says some of its crashes are understandable.

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