A 24-year-old North Riverside man who was seriously injured when he slammed his 2003 Ford Taurus into the rear of a Riverside police SUV, narrowly missing a police officer who was clearing a traffic stop on First Avenue last June, pleaded guilty on March 9 to driving under the influence of drugs.
Judge Kristyna C. Ryan sentenced David J. Kral to 18 months of court supervision and fined him $1,644.
Riverside police on Thursday released a 43-second squad car camera video from the incident, which happened at about 12:15 a.m. on June 3, 2014. Riverside Police Sgt. Jeffrey Miller can be seen walking back to his SUV, which had its lights flashing, after finishing up a traffic stop just north of 31st Street on First Avenue.
Hearing tires squealing, Miller exclaims, “Holy s—!” before running east into the forest preserve area just moments before Kral’s Taurus rams the rear of the SUV, which then rolls forward for several yards past the vehicle Miller had stopped.
After several seconds, Miller can be heard ordering Kral to “stay in the car.”
According to Weitzel, the crash had damaged the police SUV so heavily that it was difficult to recover the video from the vehicle’s dashboard camera.
“I released this video today after the defendant pled guilty to DUI drugs (cannabis) and to show how dangerous it is for officers who are out on single-man patrol vehicles to make traffic stops on what most people would consider lightly traveled suburban streets,” Weitzel said in a press release.
“As you can see by the video, the Riverside police sergeant is extremely lucky to have escaped with no injuries. From my calculations, the officer had literally three seconds to realize what was taking place and to run for his life before he would have been struck by the offending vehicle,” Weitzel added.
According to the police report from the incident, as the police officer was walking back to his vehicle, he heard screeching tires coming in his direction. When he looked up, he saw a silver Ford Taurus driving on the sidewalk after it crossed 31st Street.
Police estimated that the Taurus was traveling at 60 mph when it slammed into the back of the police SUV. The Taurus was heavily damaged in the crash and Kral had to be extricated by fire department personnel before being taken to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery, according to police.
Weitzel apologized for the police officer’s language on the video, explaining “as I think you can understand … he literally saw his life flashing in front of him. He had only three seconds to react and was running to save his life, so the language heard is not normally used by a Riverside police officer.”