High-speed police crashes’ heavy toll

If only Officer James Stoudenmire had been going less than 34 mph over the speed limit on his way to back up another officer, as accident reconstructionists found, his patrol car might not have slammed into the car turning left in front of him.

Enlarge photo HANDOUT Willie Allen Sargent Jr., 52, is pictured with his wife, Faustina Sargent. Sargent was killed in a collision with a speeding Gwinnett County Police Officer on Dec. 15, 2006. A jury awarded his widow $2 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against Gwinnett County.

If only Georgia State Patrol Trooper Donald Crozier had paused before running a red light en route to join a chase, as a subsequent investigation determined, his vehicle might not have plowed into a sport utility vehicle.

Two innocent motorists’ lives might have been spared. Two careers might have been salvaged. And taxpayers wouldn’t be facing the possibility of coughing up millions of dollars to make amends for their mistakes.

Last month, a jury awarded a $2 million judgment against Gwinnett County for Stoudenmire’s accident near Snellville, which claimed the life of 52-year-old Willie Allen Sargent Jr. on Dec. 15, 2006.

Trooper Crozier has been fired and is under investigation for possible criminal charges for causing the New Year’s Eve crash in downtown Atlanta that killed Kathy Porter, 54, of Loganville. Porter was the wife of Atlanta Braves athletic trainer Jeff Porter.

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