It is perhaps a motorist’s worst nightmare to crash into a police vehicle. That nightmare came true for a 16-year-old girl Monday afternoon at the intersection of Washington and South Ninth Street.
According to Sgt. Cleo Baker of New Mexico State Police, the girl was driving northbound on South Ninth Street when she ran a stop sign and struck a Tucumcari Police vehicle driven by Cpl. Darrick Shaw. No injuries resulted from the accident, but the police cruiser suffered heavy damage to its front end. “She just wasn’t watching,” said Baker. “I cited her for running the stop sign.” Tucumcari Police Chief Dennis Townsend said it is routine for state police officers to handle accidents involving city police. “When a city police officer is involved in an accident, the state police are called in to write up the report,” said Townsend, “if there is a state police officer available.”
The police cruiser now sits at the city garage.
“We don’t know yet if the vehicle was totaled,” said Townsend, “but it is not drivable.”
Baker said he and Shaw tried to impress upon the young female driver the importance of paying attention while driving. “Her parents showed up at the accident scene shortly after it happened,” said Baker “I think she pretty much knew that she had to do a better job of paying attention in the future. On that I have no doubt.”
Baker said there appeared to be no hard feelings on the part of Shaw.
“Cpl. Shaw was pretty calm about the whole thing,” he said. “They both complained of a little stiffness in their necks.”
Baker said accidents involving police vehicles are rare.
“I’d say we’ve had about three or four accidents involving city police vehicles during the past three and a half years.”
Townsend said because the accident was not Shaw’s fault, he is still assigned to his normal duties.