A 22-year-old North Riverside man suffered serious injuries after his car slammed into a Riverside police Chevy Tahoe that was stopped on First Avenue just north of 31st Street at about 12:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
According to Riverside police, an officer had made a traffic stop for speeding just north of 31st Street in North Riverside and was just about to leave the scene when he heard a loud screeching coming from the south.
The officer looked up to see a silver 2003 Ford Taurus speeding toward his squad car at what he estimated to be about 60 mph — and driving on the sidewalk. The Riverside officer ran into the forest preserve area to get out of the way of the Taurus, which slammed into the police SUV.
According to the accident report, the police SUV rolled for more than 360 feet after being struck. Police said the SUV was a fully marked police vehicle and that its emergency lights were flashing at the time of the crash.
North Riverside Fire Department personnel extricated the driver, identified as David J. Kral, from the Taurus and transported him to Loyola University Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery. Police reported that the man’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening.
The Taurus suffered severe front-end damage, and the police Tahoe was also extensively damaged. Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said many pieces of equipment inside the SUV were also damaged and called the wrecked SUV “a total loss.” The SUV was scheduled to be replaced in 2015.
North Riverside police have not completed their investigation and have not been able to interview Kral yet. Police did cite Kral for speeding, improper lane usage, driving on a sidewalk, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. Other charges may follow, said North Riverside Deputy Police Chief Deborah Garcia.
Weitzel said alcohol does not appear to have been a factor in the crash. However, speed was a factor, he said.
“If the officer had been in front of the squad car or in the squad car when it was hit by the offender, he would have been seriously injured or killed,” said Weitzel. “There is no question that the driver was out of control.”