All too often, accidents involving drunk drivers claim the lives of loved and respected individuals. Events like this leave communities languishing in grief and anger. Such is the case in Philadelphia and South Jersey after a veteran Philadelphia police officer was killed by an alleged drunk driver while riding his motorcycle early Sunday morning.
Officials say the accident occurred along Interstate 95, just after the member of the department’s elite Highway Patrol unit had ended his shift. The 48-year-old, who was an avid motorcycle rider, was reportedly heading north on Erie Avenue after leaving the Highway Patrol headquarters at about 3:15 a.m. when he was struck by a wrong-way driver.
Police say the wrong-way driver, a 48-year-old Bucks County man, was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes when he collided with the police officer just short of the Cottman Avenue exit. The police officer, who was a 23-year veteran of the force, was pronounced dead at the scene while still in uniform.
At the time of the accident, the officer was heading home to Somerton, where he lived with his wife and three children. Officers cornered off the family’s home following the accident to provide relatives with privacy as they mourned. Neighbors also grieved the loss of someone they considered a community protector and friend.
Members of the Philadelphia police force had nothing but positive things about the fallen patrolman. They made it clear that this was a man who took his work and his love of the city very seriously. One officer, who worked with the accident victim for 15 years, said the patrolman was quite possibly “the best human being” he had ever met.
The alleged drunk driver responsible for the accident was charged Sunday night with homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence and other related offenses, police said. He was hospitalized with injuries sustained in the crash. It is possible he could face a civil wrongful death lawsuit in addition to the criminal charges.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Motorcycle cop dies in collision; other driver charged with drunk driving, vehicular homicide,” Regina Medina, William Bender, Morgan Zalot and Julie Shaw, July 9, 2012