As citizens of this state, we rely on our police, fire and other emergency responders to provide safety and security to the public as a whole. To us, even as Maryland personal injury lawyers, it is difficult to reconcile any connection of a public servant with a negligent act that injures or kills another individual. Being sworn to serve and protect is the basis of a police officer’s duty to the local citizenry.
With that said, however, we understand that human beings can and do make errors in judgment that impact the safety of others around them. As automobile, trucking and motorcycle accident attorneys, we understand how a potentially deadly scenario can develop quickly to the point that someone is seriously or fatally injured in a car or trucking-related wreck. Drinking and driving is one such instance when a supposedly competent and law-abiding individual can cause the death of another person without reason.
Not long ago, an off-duty Annapolis police officer was apparently involved in a fatal drunken driving accident, although the officer’s potential responsibility regarding the collision was still an open issue even months after the accident. According to police reports, 52-year-old Officer James Salyers allegedly had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.19 percent following a motor vehicle accident that killed a teenager from Glen Burnie.
The crash occurred on Potee Street in Brooklyn, MD, last October when a Cadillac CTS that Salyers was driving hit a Dodge Durango sport utility vehicle driven by 19-year-old Philip Dornberger III of Pasadena. The officer’s vehicle was reportedly traveling southbound at 71mph in a 40 zone and the force of the traffic accident caused the westbound Durango to spin out; during the event, 19-year-old Andrew Arnold-McCoy of Glen Burnie was thrown out of the left rear passenger window and onto the pavement.
Emergency rescue personnel arriving on the scene treated Arnold-McCoy who was then transported via ambulance to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Unfortunately, the man was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital.
Police officers at the scene that evening reportedly found a case of beer in the Cadillac’s front passenger footwell, and in a statement one of the responding officers stated that Salyers, a recent Annapolis hire and 28-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, had attempted to leave the scene of the car crash.
At the time of the news report, police investigators had been unable to determine which driver had the green light at the time of the collision. An eye witness gave a statement to police officers that the Durango had the right-of-way, yet that witness also stated that he did not see the actual crash. Other witnesses apparently could not make a definitive statement either.
Police reports indicate that the Cadillac’s internal computer showed that the vehicle was traveling 71mph and accelerating just five seconds before the crash. The computer information also indicated that Salyers did not attempt to brake before the Caddy hit the SUV, according to police. The officer did lift his foot off the throttle briefly, causing the car’s speed to drop to 67mph a second before hitting the Durango.
The SUV’s driver reportedly admitted to officers that he had smoked marijuana earlier that day; patrolmen evaluated the teenage at the accident scene and determined that he was under the influence of marijuana, as well as a “dissociative anesthetic.” A urine test confirmed the presence of marijuana and an opiate in the man’s system.
According to news reports, charges have yet to be filed regarding this accident. And, while prosecutors are still handling their own investigation, the victim’s stepfather has already complained about the lack of progress in the case.
Police: Off-duty Annapolis cop drunk, speeding in fatal crash, HometownAnnapolis.com, June 9, 2011