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Initial report in cruiser crash released

Updated: Wednesday, May 14 2014, 08:05 PM EDT
BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio – For a number of reasons, last week was certainly an eventful one for the Bellaire Police Department.
At the top of the list was a two-cruiser crash that left two police vehicles out of commission.
Each cruiser was manned by one police officer and one prisoner when a major crash happened on Ohio 7 just outside village limits.
While there were no serious injuries, the damage to the police cruisers was significant.
At the time, investigators handling this incident said they were still trying to piece together exactly what transpired.
Now, it seems, authorities have a better understanding.
An initial crash report released Wednesday by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which is investigating the accident, concludes two police cruisers were traveling on the northbound onramp from 48th Street to state Ohio 7.
One cruiser stopped abruptly, and that's when the vehicle following behind slammed into its back.
After impact, the first cruiser traveled off the left side of the road while the second went off to the right.
The contributing circumstances inside the report found that officer JJ Watson stopped or parked illegally.
Circumstances also determined that officer Michael Wheeler followed too closely.
Wheeler stated his speed was 40 miles per hour.
Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk has given consent to reconstructionists to analyze airbag modules from both patrol cars.
Information may be obtained from the airbag modules up to 8 seconds before the crash. Investigators could also conclude a number of other factors from the modules like vehicle and engine speed, break lights, seatbelt use, and air bag deployment among others.
A complete report compiled by members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and its specialized reconstructionists will take some additional time. That packet, in its entirety, will be submitted to Prosecutor’s Office for review.

Initial report in cruiser crash released

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