INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer was upgraded to stable condition late Friday after his squad car slammed into a median wall on I-65. Investigators are still searching for a cause, but ruled out alcohol as a factor.
Sergeant Anthony McLemore underwent surgery Friday afternoon at IU Methodist Hospital.
“It went well,” said IMPD Officer Christopher Wilburn. “Apparently there were a number of things that needed to be repaired. The extent of his injuries are still unknown to me, but he’s resting with family and we’ve even asked some of our IMPD family to give him an opportunity to recuperate.”
The crash happened just 3 a.m. Friday in the southbound lanes of I-65, near Keystone Parkway. The collision was so violent that McLemore was knocked unconscious. The first responding officers were unable to get him out of the car. He was extricated by firefighters, who removed the doors to the vehicle.
“It was one of those situations where you get that page early in the morning and your heart just is gut wrenched, because you don’t know what to expect. And then based on seeing the damage to the vehicle, it was difficult to look at,” Wilburn said.
Investigators were still working late Friday to determine what might have caused the crash.
The 14-year veteran officer was nearing the end of his normal eight hour shift, was not responding to a call, and did not have his lights and sirens on at the time, Wilburn said.
No other vehicles were involved.
Wilburn said it’s possible McLemore fell asleep at the wheel.
“We haven’t ruled that out. That’s important to note. We work hard. I think people want us to work hard. That’s why we got these positions–to do the people’s work. But, we don’t know [if he fell asleep]. He may have had a medical issue. We don’t know that yet.”
According to police reports obtained by I-Team 8, McLemore was involved in at least three prior accidents in his squad car.
Reports show McLemore was treated for head, neck and back pain at an IU Occupational Health Clinic after colliding with another car near Emerson and County Line Road on the south side in March of 2013.
He was also treated for minor injuries following a 2006 crash in the northbound lanes of I-65, just three miles away from Friday’s crash site. In that accident, his squad car rolled over onto its top.
In another incident in 2005, McLemore reported his squad car involved in a hit and run outside his home. The vehicle sustained damage to the front driver’s side and was taken in for repairs.
Wilburn said investigators are aware of the prior incidents.
“We have a number of steps we go through, accident review boards and things of that nature. But, let’s say this: we spend an extensive amount of time in those vehicles. But, we spend an even more extensive amount of time learning how to manipulate those cars. Officers, sergeants and supervisors spent a lot of time in these vehicles. 90 percent of their time is spent in their vehicles. It’s one of those things where we train for these types of incidents. We don’t like them to occur, but they happen in our line of work,” he said.
Crash investigators will not be able to review dash camera video from Friday’s crash because McLemore’s car is not equipped with it, Wilburn said. They are still waiting on toxicology tests and the results of a blood draw taken at the hospital.