A Maryland State Police trooper who fatally struck an elderly pedestrian last year is back on duty after an investigation into the crash. A state police spokesman said couldn't say whether the trooper has been found guilty of any policy violations, but confirmed that the state's attorney will not press any charges against him.
The 87-year-old pedestrian, who was a community fixture known for pushing a red lawnmower along St. Mary's County roads, was in the road when the state trooper hit him in a state-owned Jeep the night of Jan. 20, 2011. A state police crash investigation found that the trooper was driving 12 miles over the posted speed limit of 40 mph when he struck the elderly man and dragged him for 225 feet, crushing him underneath the car and the lawnmower.
The trooper reported that he didn't see the man until he hit him because it was so dark. But two witnesses both stated there was sufficient lighting and a full moon that night. They wrote in their statements that they saw the man try to move away from the Jeep just before impact, one witness from 25 feet away and another from 150 feet. The accident report showed that the trooper was also driving on the white line on the side of the road when he hit the man.
After the crash, the trooper first made contact with the driver behind him, rather than immediately reporting the emergency, according to the report, and he gave no name or description of that driver. When he did call for help, he contacted the local state police barrack on his cellphone, rather than dialing 911, the trooper said in his initial statement. But investigators were told there was no recording of the call because the recording system at the barrack was broken. And according to subpoenaed records, the trooper hadn't made any calls from his cellphone. Despite these findings, the trooper hasn't officially been accused of any wrongdoing.
The victim has no surviving relatives, but if he did, they could have a strong case for a wrongful death lawsuit. Absent anyone to seek compensation for the loss of life, it seems the trooper won't be held liable for the man's death.
Source: The County Times, "Trooper in Fatal Yogi Crash Back on Duty," Guy Leonard, Feb. 7, 2012