RIVERSIDE – A Riverside police officer had to run into the forest preserve to avoid being struck by his own squad car after a driver rear-ended the officer's vehicle as it was parked while conducting a traffic stop.
The crash occurred at about 12:16 a.m. on Tuesday, according to a Riverside Police Department news release.
The officer was making a traffic stop for speeding at First Avenue just north of 31st Street. The officer was walking back to his squad car when he reported hearing a loud screeching sound and saw a vehicle traveling at an estimated 60 miles per hour heading north across 31st Street and driving on the sidewalk. The officer fled to the forest preserve to avoid being struck as the speeding vehicle crashed into the squad car.
The officer's vehicle, a 2011 Chevy Tahoe, was fully marked and had its emergency lights flashing, according to the release.
The name driver of the vehicle that crashed into the squad car was not release by police, but the driver was identified at a 22-year-old North Riverside resident. The driver was pinned in their vehicle after the crash and had to be removed by North Riverside Fire Department personnel.
The driver was transported to the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where he underwent emergency surgery, police said. According to police, hospital officials said the man's injuries were not life-threatening, but were serious in nature.
An investigation is underway and is being handled by the North Riverside Police Department. Police said alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the accident, but cited the driver's excessive speed as a factor in the crash.
"The sergeant who had just cleared the traffic stop ... for speeding literally escaped with his life," Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said in a statement. "If the officer had been in front of his squad car in the squad car when it was hit by the offender, he would have been seriously injured or killed."