Colo. Officer Seriously Injured in Crash

THORNTON, Colo. --

A Thornton police officer was one of five people hurt when a car crash sent the officer's car 100 feet into a ditch.

According to Thornton Police, a Plymouth Neon going northbound on York Street allegedly ran a flashing red light and crashed into a police car going westbound on East 100th Avenue early Saturday morning.

The intersection has a normal light cycle until 11 p.m. when it becomes a flashing yellow right-of-way for drivers on East 100th Avenue and a flashing red stop for drivers on York Street.

"We just got smashed. I specifically remember seeing the yellow flashing lights. You know, we have the right away," said 22-year-old crash victim Donovan Birch.

Birch and his 31-year-old girlfriend were getting a courtesy transport from the officer to a nearby restaurant. The officer had responded to Birch's home for a family disturbance. According to Birch, he and his girlfriend had walked away from the home and were waiting for a ride, when the officer offered to get them out of the cold and to the restaurant.

Birch told 7NEWS the accident happened about 100 yards after the officer picked them up.

"I look at my girlfriend and she's unconscious. I look at the driver, and I thought he was dead," said Birch. "I was right next to the door that got hit. I don't understand. It just makes me feel like it's kind of unfair. She wasn't even anywhere close to the impact zone and she's the once that got it the worst."

He told 7NEWS his girlfriend will survive, but is currently in the intensive care unit.

"I got out of the car and I started screaming for help," said Birch.

The officer was also seriously injured. Emergency crews needed the Jaws of Life to get him out of the car.

The two people in the Neon that ended up upside down, a 24-year-old driver and 32-year-old passenger, were also seriously injured.

"We could hear people yelling, 'help me,'" said neighbor Simona Tolentino. "It was horrific. It was horrendous. It made me sick to my stomach."

Tolentino was asleep and heard the crash. She looked outside and saw one car on its roof and the police car in the ditch.

"I could see a car upside down over by the intersection. It was kind of on the sidewalk next to the pole and it was smoking, it was this newer smoke and I thought the car was on fire," said Tolentino.

She told 7NEWS this is the second car she has seen crash into the ditch in the four months she's lived in the house that overlooks the intersection. She thinks the flashing intersection lights overnight may be causing the crashes.

"I think a lot of times people will slow down and go through it, expecting that they're not seeing anybody coming from the sides, but there are fences along the side, so you really can't see if someone is coming through," said Tolentino.

"They keep going, and why they change it to a flashing light I have no idea," said neighbor George Martinez.

Martinez and his wife also woke up after they heard the crash. The police car ended up just yards from his side fence.

"This time there was four people carried off on stretchers and strapped down, whereas usually there's maybe one," said Martinez.

He said drivers speed and do a lot of racing on 100th Avenue because it's a long stretch of road with few lights. Martinez also blames the flashing lights overnight and wonders what it will take for the city to keep the intersection as a normal cycle.

"Probably a fatality would be my guess. I mean it's dangerous and it's dangerous every night," said Martinez.

While investigators were gathering evidence, Birch told 7NEWS they told him how fast they thought the Neon must have been traveling.

"They said the other car had to be doing anywhere between 90 and 115 miles an hour," said Birch. Charges are pending the investigation by the North Metro Technical Accident Investigation Team and toxicology results.

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