KEYSER - Already in the market for a new cruiser, Keyser City Police will be looking to replace this vehicle as well, after it was totaled by a DWI driver earlier this week.


by RICHARD KERNS
Tribune Staff?Writer

KEYSER - Already in the market for a new cruiser, Keyser City Police will be looking to replace this vehicle as well, after it was totaled by a DWI driver earlier this week.
According to police, an officer was transporting two suspects to the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail at 6 a.m. Sunday when an oncoming car crossed the center line outside Romney. The officer swerved to the left to avoid the collision, but was broadsided.
No one was injured in the incident, and DWI charges were filed against the other driver. State Police in Romney investigated the incident, but have not released any information about the wreck.
It should be an open-and-shut case, as the entire episode was captured on the cruiser's video camera. Keyser Police have a recording of the incident, which shows the cruiser traveling the two-lane road without incident, and then as the officer rounds a turn, two headlights appear directly in his path.
"He can't say the police officer was driving left of center," said Assistant Keyser Police Chief Kip Ellifritz.
The video shows the cruiser swerving left, and then captures the moment of impact, as the DWI vehicle passes to the right, and the cruiser is pushed sideways into the other lane.
Ellifritz said the officer checked on the status of the two prisoners he was transporting, and after they reported they were fine, he ran down the road to check on the other driver.
According to Ellifritz' account, the man's response attested to his inebriated state.
Unaware of the accident he just caused, "He said, 'Why did you pull me over?'"
With his car disabled in the roadway, the Keyser officer retrieved the two prisoners and secured them in the second vehicle, which was on the shoulder. He then called for assistance from other law enforcement agencies.
State Police indicated Monday that they would issue a news release on the DWI arrest. As of Thursday no release had been issued, a dispatcher at the Romney detachment reported.
Windshield-mounted urveillance cameras operate continuously in Keyser police cruisers. The tape is preserved whenever the officer activates the vehicle's sirens. In the case of the Sunday incident, the video shows the blue lights flashing immediately after the impact of the collision.
After the wreck the cruiser was towed to the parking lot across from the Keyser Police Station on North Davis Street. Police consider it a total loss.