Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, August 10, 1999

WRECK LANDS OFFICER ON LEAVE

August 10, 1999

Advertisement

A Lawrence police officer smelled like alcohol after an accident early Saturday in which he admitted to hitting a bicyclist with his Jeep.

A Lawrence police officer is on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into an accident in which he struck a bicyclist early Saturday.

Officer Micah Stegall, 24, had bloodshot eyes and smelled like alcohol after the accident, according to a report obtained by the Journal-World late Monday.

Stegall, with the department for about 17 months, was neither on duty nor driving a patrol car when the accident occurred about 2 a.m. Saturday at Eighth and Vermont streets, Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin said.

Stegall drove the bicyclist, 22-year-old Michael Mitchell of Lawrence, to Lawrence Memorial Hospital after the accident, Olin said.

Physicians treated and released Mitchell, but an emergency room doctor told police an injury to Mitchell's right thumb would require plastic surgery to repair. Mitchell also suffered lacerations and abrasions to the right thigh, a contusion to the forehead and an abrasion to the left forearm, according to an accident report.

Asked why he had placed Stegall on administrative leave, Olin said, "Any time an officer is suspected of any kind of impropriety, we take precautions to do the right thing," he said. "We're at a point where it (the investigation) could go either way."

Stegall was not cited for the accident. That's common in injury accidents, Olin said. Authorities are reviewing the case to decide whether to forward it to Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich or to municipal court, the chief said.

Stegall told Officer Max Dickens, the investigating officer, that he had exited the parking lot on the northeast corner of Eighth and Vermont streets, making a left turn onto Vermont, the report said. While traveling southbound on Vermont, he attempted to make a left turn onto Eighth Street, the report says. Stegall said he was traveling "too fast" and was unable to keep his 1995 Jeep Wrangler on the roadway and drove onto the south sidewalk off Eighth Street.

The officer said he saw a bicyclist traveling westbound on the sidewalk and hit the man with the right front bumper of his Jeep. Mitchell "went over" the right front of the Jeep, Stegall told police.

Blood-alcohol tests are pending.

"I was hit hard by the car," Mitchell, who said he had consumed four 12-ounce beers before the accident, told police.

He said that prior to the collision, he heard a passenger in Stegall's car say, "Oh my God, don't hit the dude."

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.