ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KTVI) - A Missouri state trooper is in serious condition, and at least two others are also hurt after a car plowed into the scene of a routine traffic stop on Interstate 55 in south St. Louis County.
It happened about 8:30 Sunday morning. Highway Patrol officials say Trooper Jeremy Potocki had pulled a car over on 55 southbound between Union and Reavis Barracks. The trooper was outside the car, on foot, talking to the person he had stopped when a Volkswagen crashed into the back of the trooper’s SUV.
Nikki Stoehr was watching from the side of the highway as investigators looked over the scene. One friend was still there, another was among those hospitalized.
“They were the ones being pulled over, then, I don’t know, a car came up behind them, I guess texting or something and nailed them and then the cop car went flying into his car.”
Highway Patrol spokesman, Sgt. Al Notham, says they don’t know what led to the crash just yet, whether it was texting or some other potential distraction.
“I do know that we are looking at why he came over and struck him,” he said, “if there was some kind of other thing at work there. That is under investigation.”
The driver of the car Michael Haley was airlifted to an area hospital. The trooper and at least one other person were rushed out by ambulance. The trooper was listed in serious condition at last report. There was no word on the two other people.
Notham says the one thing this makes crystal clear is the danger officers face, even in a situation as routine as a stop at 8:30 on a Sunday morning.
“We work on the side of the highway and we’re just feet away from cars traveling 60-70 miles per hour every day. So it’s a dangerous place to work and that’s why we want everyone to obey the traffic laws and one of them is yield to a stationary emergency vehicle.”
The driver of the Volkswagen, Michael Haley, 43, of Arnold, Missouri was charged late Sunday afternoon with 2 counts of assault second degree and driving while intoxicated.