Patrolman Charles Flanagan rear-ended a Jeep Cherokee that was stopped at a red light while he chased a white Ford Mustang reportedly traveling 30 mph over the speed limit near Penn High School.
Flanagan had surgery for a broken femur and could be in the hospital for four to eight weeks, St. Joseph County Sgt. Bill Redman said.
The investigation into the crash that also injured four family members in the Cherokee was ongoing on Monday.
The driver of the Cherokee was identified as Joseph Knapp, 35, of Mishawaka. The other passengers were his wife, Elizabeth Knapp, 33, and their two daughters, an 18-month-old and a 2-month-old. They were taken to Memorial Hospital for minor injuries and released.
Police said the Mustang was going north on Bittersweet about 5 p.m. and went through a red light at the Day Road intersection. Flanagan, traveling south on Bittersweet, turned his car around to begin chasing the Mustang but began fishtailing when he lost control on a patch of sand, causing him to crash into the Knapp’s vehicle.
Flanagan told police the Mustang was traveling more than 60 mph. The driver of the Mustang continued on Bittersweet after the crash.
Redman said, to his knowledge, there has not been a discussion on whether any police policies were broken during the brief chase.
Flanagan had both his lights and sirens on, Redman noted. Officers are also required to call into the 911 dispatch center to alert police if they are chasing a vehicle, but Redman said the crash happened so quickly that Flanagan didn’t have a chance to get to that point.
Redman said state law requires officers to drive with due regard during a chase, and approach intersections with caution. Flanagan had not yet reached the intersection, as the Jeep was stopped at a red light in the northbound lanes just south of the Day and Bittersweet intersection.
Police, meanwhile, are continuing to seek the public’s help in locating the driver of the Mustang, which police said had tinted windows.
Flanagan has been on patrol for the St. Joseph County Police Department for the past six months after serving with the South Bend Police Department for 22 years.
Staff writer Tom Moor: