Archive for Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Fire truck accident sent to district court

January 14, 2004

A citation issued in an accident involving a Baldwin fire truck won't be taken care of in city court to avoid a conflict of interest. Instead, the case is being sent to district court.

Baldwin City Police Chief Mike McKenna said the traffic ticket issued to a Baldwin volunteer firefighter in a November accident will be handled in district court to make it as fair as possible.

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"After talking with the city prosecutor, it was my position that to avoid any perceptions of favoritism or conflict it would best be reached by going outside city government to district court," he said.

McKenna said the non-injury traffic accident occurred Nov. 18 at the intersection of U.S. Highway 56 and Sixth Street as a Baldwin fire truck was responding to unknown fumes at the Baldwin High School.

A vehicle collided with the fire truck, which had its lights and siren on. McKenna said the fire truck continued on to the high school, and police were notified of the accident.

Two citations were issued, he said, one to the driver of the other vehicle for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle. Baldwin firefighter Brian Craig was issued a citation for leaving the scene of an accident.

McKenna said regardless of whether the fire truck is responding to an emergency, it must remain at the scene if it's involved in an accident. The state's Standard Traffic Ordinances does not make an exception for emergency vehicles, but states all vehicles will stop and remain at the scene.

The police chief said no exception could be made to the fire fighter, even though he was responding to an emergency.

"As law enforcement officers, we're not given that type of discretion in investigating accidents," he said.

"I think most of the community would feel the same as we do, that we have to treat everybody fairly and everybody equally in handling matters in dealing with the law."

Baldwin Fire Chief Allen Craig declined to comment about the issue and said he advised Brian Craig not to comment as well.

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