By Kelli Stopczynski (email@example.com)
6:07 PM EST, March 8, 2013
Indiana State Police are investigating a serious crash involving one of their own. It will likely be days or weeks before we know who’s responsible for the crash and how it happened. But there are questions about why ISP didn’t ask for help in the investigation from an outside agency.
The crash that put 3 people in the hospital happened around 8 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of Ireland and Linden Roads. Late Friday, 19-year-old Robert Perez of Mishawaka was still listed in critical condition and his passenger, 20-year-old Danielle Cutler of South Bend, was in fair condition, according to a spokesman at Memorial Hospital.
Trooper William “Ben” Ennis was released from the hospital early Friday morning with a broken ankle and other minor injuries. He’s not the only police officer in his family – one of his brothers is an officer in Mishawaka and the other is a trooper out of the Lafayette post.
By night, it looked bad.
“I was at the post so I didn’t know what was going on,” explained Trooper Gretchen Deal. “We just hear dispatch calling out his car number several times and then you just know, like the hair on the back of your neck goes up and you just know.”
In the daylight, mangled car parts still littered the scene. Deal graduated from the Indiana State Police Academy with Trooper Ennis 6 years ago.
“We did hear him finally go over air and it was real muffled. You could just tell something bad happened,” she recalled. “That’s when he said he was involved in a (crash).”
Late Friday, ISP still hadn’t released the cause of the crash, how it happened or who may have been at fault.
Ennis was driving west on Ireland – his lights and sirens on – to assist St. Joseph County police on a call, investigators said, when he hit a southbound car driven by Perez on Linden.
The intersection is a two-way stop and Perez would have had to stop. Ennis did not have a stop sign.
But there are questions about state police handling an investigation involving one of their own.
St. Joseph County Fatal Alcohol Crash Team investigator Tim Spencer told WSBT the team typically investigates ever serious crash that happens in St. Joseph County. FACT is made up of investigators from Mishawaka, South Bend and the St. Joseph County police departments.
FACT offered to help with Thursday night’s investigation but ISP turned them down, Spencer said.
ISP Sgt. Ron Galaviz told WSBT it’s standard procedure for state police to handle any investigation involving a state vehicle.
“Our investigators are very skilled and conduct very impartial investigations,” he said. “We feel we can do a comprehensive investigation and it behooves us to investigate a crash involving one of our own to the fullest extent."
Galaviz also said he didn’t know how long the investigation would last.
Police are asking anyone who saw what happened to call the Bremen post at (574) 546.4900.
There have also been questions about the intersection where the accident happened potentially being dangerous. The north side of the road is technically in the City of South Bend and the south side is in St. Joseph County. Spokesmen from both departments said last night’s crash was the 6th in the last 5 years, 3 of which involved injuries.
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