The airbag mechanism in a Lawrence police car was working properly when it didn't deploy during a recent two-car accident that destroyed a law enforcement car, a city official said this week.
A Chevrolet-Geo representative in Kansas City, Kan., examined the car, which was damaged when it crashed into a local church last week. The representeative determined that the system was working fine, said Leonard Monroe, city garage superintendent.
"He said the airbag didn't deploy because the impact wasn't significant enough," Monroe said.
According to Lawrence police reports, Officer Scott Connell was driving the patrol car west on 10th Street to an emergencey call when he collided with a car driven south on Vermont Street by Neva Stowe, 19 W. 14th, at about 8:53 a.m. Wednesday.
The impact of the crash sent the police car, a 1991 Chevrolet Caprice Classic, into the side of Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt., located in the southwest corner of the intersection.
Although Monroe said last week he thought the airbag should have deployed, A.J. "Harry" DeForest Jr., account manager for service for Chevrolet Geo, tested the airbag mechanism Friday morning and has a different opinion, Monroe said.
Monroe said DeForest told him the bag activates when the vehicle has a front-end collision at speeds of at least 18 to 20 mph. According to police reports Connell said he was driving about 15 mph through the intersection. Stowe said she had been driving about 30 mph.
DeForest said this morning he would not comment on the inspection.
Monroe said he would not comment on whether he thought the airbag mechanism was flawed.
But he did say "when you get a car that's totaled, you'd think the airbag would have deployed. It's kind of puzzling."
The GM representative tested only the car involved in the 10th and Vermont accident and did not look at other patrol cars.
Lawrence Police Sgt. Mark Warren said the car involved in Wednesday's accident would not be replaced immediately, but that the department has ordered 12 new cars, seven of which are marked patrol cars. Warren said the cars, which are Ford Crown Victorias, are equipped with airbags.