By Rosemary K. Otzman
Scott Russell of Van Buren Township was taking his two daughters to their orthodontic appointments early Thursday morning, April 3, when they witnessed an accident.
Russell said he witnessed a vehicle that ran a red light as it traveled southbound on Belleville Road at Ecorse.
He said a VBT police officer was in a patrol vehicle on the corner and turned on his lights and pursued the car that had run the red light. Russell said the officer was going slowly southbound since he also was going through the red light.
A car that was eastbound on Ecorse then T-boned the police vehicle, Russell said. The police vehicle was struck in the passenger side rear door which caused it to flip upside down and slide to a stop.
Russell said he stopped his vehicle and got out to see if he could help the officer. He said the officer was coherent and asked Russell to cut him out of his seatbelt, since he was suspended upside down.
Russell said the officer handed him a knife and Russell proceeded to cut him free.
After the officer climbed out of the car, Russell said he asked the officer to sit down, but the officer said he was fine and went over to check on the occupants of the other vehicle.
Russell said the car that hit the patrol vehicle had time to stop since the police car was proceeding slowly, but it didn’t. He said the police officer tried to veer his vehicle, but the two vehicles crashed anyway.
“I was really impressed with the officer and how professionally he acted in a dangerous situation,” said Russell, who is a trustee on the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education.
He said he was also impressed with how the officer’s first thought was for the well-being of the person in the other car.
A news release from VBT Police Lt. Kenneth Floro identified the officer as Fred Sweet, who was uninjured in the crash.
Camerina Smith, a 50-year-old woman from Toledo, Ohio, was driving the 2013 Hyundai. She was transported by Huron Valley Ambulance to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital with neck and back pain.
Lt. Floro said VBT police asked the Michigan State Police to conduct an independent investigation and complete an accident report. He said VBT police are conducting a review of the incident for internal auditing of VBT policies and procedures.
Lt. Floro said the incident remains under investigation and anyone with questions or concerns about the accident is asked to contact him at (734) 699-8915.
By Rosemary K. Otzman