2 killed when scooter hits police cruiser

Raleigh police are investigating an early morning accident involving one of their officers. (Chopper11 HD)
June 5, 2013 7:53:30 PM PDT
Raleigh police say two men on a scooter died early Wednesday morning after colliding with a police cruiser.

It happened around 3 a.m. on Skycrest Drive between Brentwood Road and Hill Street, not far from the Raleigh Ice Plex in the northeast part of the city.

» Click here for a map of the area «

Police say two officers were working independently when one spotted a scooter with a broken headlamp.

They say one of the officers, Jonathan Crews, saw another vehicle speeding in the opposite direction on Skycrest. Crews had reached 77 miles per hour trying to catch the driver when 20-year-old Maurice Harden's scooter veered into his westbound lane hitting Crews head-on.

Both Harden and his passenger, 21-year-old Trindell Thomas, were killed on impact. Crews suffered only minor injuries.

Images from Chopper11 HD showed the police cruiser with major front end damage and a shattered windshield. The scooter appeared to be wedged underneath the front of the cruiser.

"This was a tragic and unavoidable, probably unavoidable accident," said Wake County District Attorney Colin Willoughby.

However, there are some discrepancies. Police say the scooter was going 53 in a 35 mile per hour zone, but Harden's sister says her brother's scooter could only reach 42 miles per hour maybe even less going up a hill on Skycrest.

Police say Harden veered into oncoming traffic, but his friends say he was turning into their driveway. Police also said the scooter was stolen. Relatives say it wasn't.

Once a reconstructive team finishes the final accident report, Willoughby will review the evidence.

"Our office reviews almost every one of these vehicular homicides and gives advice about what charges we think are appropriate, if charges are appropriate," said Willoughby.

Residents near the crash scene told ABC11 that the 35 mile per hour road has been plagued with several fatal accidents in the last decade.

"I just thought it was just another accident," neighbor Sue Vaughan said. "It's a 35 mile an hour speed limit and you might as well put a one in front of it most of the time because people don't adhere to it."

Skycrest Drive is a main thoroughfare in her neighborhood, but she said it wasn't always that way.

"It was a dead end when we moved in and somebody wanted to make it a clear shot to Raleigh Boulevard and when they did that they didn't bother to think about the traffic that was on this road," Vaughan said.

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