Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FARMINGTON -- A Maine state trooper could have prevented a crash that sent him to the hospital with minor injuries and caused $10,000 in damages to his cruiser in August, according to a state police safety review board.
The board determined that Trooper Jedediah Malcore didn't take the appropriate evasive action when his cruiser just missed hitting two vehicles, veered off the road and rolled over once.
The cruiser's siren and lights were on at the time because Malcore was responding to an emergency call when he crashed Aug. 18 on Route 43 in Farmington.
He lost control of his cruiser after swerving to avoid hitting another car, which was turning left in the cruiser's path. A pickup truck also almost was hit as the cruiser went careening off the road and into a ditch.
Speed, the other car's failure to yield and the state trooper's inability to retain control of his cruiser contributed to the crash, said state police Major Chris Grotton, citing the board's report.
Malcore, like all state troopers, had been trained to take certain steps to avoid losing control of his cruiser under those circumstances, the key factor that the safety board looks at when investigating trooper crashes.
"It was a preventable crash on his part, as in, there were things he could have to done to avoid it," Grotton said of the board's finding.
State troopers receive several days of training in evasive driving techniques before they graduate from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro. The board concluded that these skills should have helped Malcore avoid the crash, Grotton said.
Whenever a state trooper is involved in a crash, the Fleet Safety Review Board investigates and makes a ruling on whether the trooper should face disciplinary action or require additional training.
There are seven state police officials on the board who review crashes without knowing the trooper's name, Grotton said.
Malcore, who is assigned to the state police barracks in Skowhegan, was in another crash within a year before the most recent one. After the most recent crash, the board ordered more training for him, an order that is triggered when a trooper displays a pattern of driving problems, Grotton said. Malcore completed a remedial driving course with state police trainers, who recreated the accident scenario and showed him how he could have avoided the crash, Grotton said.
State police did not respond immediately to a Morning Sentinel request Tuesday for a copy of the review board's report. Grotton said he didn't know the details of Malcore's previous crash, which the board also deemed preventable.
He also said he didn't know whether the cruiser would be repaired or scrapped because of the $10,000 worth of damage.
Some cases consist of troopers responding to emergency calls, with sirens and lights blaring, so safety reviews have to account for the unique problems tied to law enforcement regulations.
The report didn't determine an exact speed and other factors in the crash, but the cruiser definitely was going faster than the 45-mph speed limit while responding to a personal injury crash in Weld, Grotton said.
In the Weld crash, nearly 30 miles away, at least two people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, according to police reports on that incident.
The goal of a state police safety review is to find out whether the trooper could have prevented a crash, which is different from investigations into civilian crashes that seek to identify a cause, Grotton said.
A nonpreventable crash, for example, can involve a cruiser hitting a deer, a situation that a trooper's training and experience simply couldn't help to avoid, he said.
Another scenario could be a trooper intentionally hitting a vehicle to try to stop a crime, something that is allowed under certain circumstances, Grotton said.
Review board members can impose more severe penalties if misconduct is alleged, ranging from breaking minor traffic laws to serious criminal violations. Such cases are handed over to the Internal Affairs division for further investigation.
Grotton described the reviews as a way to measure troopers' performance during crashes, which are inevitable with hundreds of police vehicles on the road each day statewide.
"We certainly take these (crashes) seriously and do the due diligence of the safety review board," he said.
David Robinson -- 861-9287