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Crash involved Woodstock PD squad + 2 cars

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois Emergency Services Vehicles

Crash involved Woodstock PD squad + 2 cars

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
January 20, 2011

The Northwest Herald has just (11:51AM) published online a story about a traffic crash yesterday that involved a Woodstock police car and two other vehicles at Route 47 and Lake Street (sic). The reporter probably meant Lake Avenue - the signalized intersection near 3 Brothers Restaurant and Days Inn. (There is no intersection in Woodstock of Route 47 and Lake "Street".)

The crash was investigated by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, and the news story references a press release by the Sheriff's Department. So far, no press release is posted on the sheriff's website at http://www.mchenrysheriff.org/

According to the newspaper article, "The squad car was headed westbound on Lake Street while responding to a call for service about 3:09 p.m. when it was struck by a 2003 Ford Windstar that was southbound on Route 47. The squad car was subsequently pushed into a stopped 2000 Chevrolet Trailblazer that was facing east on Lake Street, causing minor damage.

"Witnesses at the scene confirmed that the Woodstock police officer was using emergency lights and siren at the time of the incident."

The driver of the Ford Windstar, Tara L. Madigan, 31, of Woodstock, was ticketed for failing to yield to an authorized emergency vehicle.

It will be interesting to learn to what type of call the officer was responding and which driver had a red light. The paper failed to report these important facts.

If a driver of an authorized emergency vehicles proceeds against (through) a traffic signal (red light or stop sign), he must do so only in a safe manner and in such a manner as to avoid an accident. So, did Ms. Madigan run a red light and get hit by the squad car? The paper does not report that she was ticketed for running a red light.

It is common in police cars for dashboard videocameras to operate when the emergency lights and siren are activated. Was the camera operating in that squad car?

In some departments the officer must code the camera with his ID or Badge Number at the beginning of the shift. In some departments the camera operates throughout the shift, whether or not lights and siren are in use. Is that true in the Woodstock PD? Did the officer activate the camera at the beginning of his shift?

If so, the camera will have clearly recorded the color of the traffic light as he approached the intersection.

Why was the Woodstock officer using the emergency lights and siren of his squad car?

Was he on a call that was assigned to him and of such a priority that Department guidelines (General Orders) allowed him to use his discretion to activate the emergency lights and siren?

Or was he proceeding to assist another officer? Was he assigned to assist, or did he decide to go on his own?

What type of call was it? Shots fired? Bank robbery? Rape? Battery? Was the other officer still in need of assistance?

10:14 PM: The McHenry County Sheriff's Department still has not yet posted the press release concerning this crash on the Sheriff's website, in spite of providing it to the Northwest Herald.

The Sheriff's Department has not named the Woodstock police officer involved in the crash or the name of the driver of the third vehicle involved. Nor has it revealed who violated the red light signal or whether a driver was cited for that violation.

Why would the sheriff' dept. withhold the name of the police officer?

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