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Two killed, Three Injured in Wreck with Tenn. Cruiser

Aug. 27--A Memphis Police Department squad car collided with another vehicle near Downtown Sunday afternoon, killing two people and critically injuring two more.

Witnesses said the officer was speeding and that his siren and blue lights were not on.

Two people in the private car were killed, while two others were rushed to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis in extremely critical condition. The officer also was injured, but was listed in non-critical condition late Sunday.

Authorities had not released the names of any of those involved in the accident by late Sunday.

The incident happened about 2:45 p.m. at Walnut and Crump, police said. Numerous witnesses said the officer was speeding, possibly through a red light. They also said the squad car did not have its lights or sirens on, although police said the officer was en route to a call.

Witness accounts differed on which direction the private car was going, but everyone, including police, agreed that the squad car was heading east on Crump.

Police said the private car was southbound on Georgia. Other witnesses, however, placed it westbound on Crump, attempting to turn left onto Walnut.

Several people standing near the intersection, where three streets meet, said they saw the collision.

"Too fast," said Justin Vinson, 23, describing the squad car's rate of travel. "They was in the wrong. Police was in the wrong."

Quincey Smith, sitting outside on the opposite side of the intersection, also said the officer was speeding.

"He ran the light," Smith said, saying the cop was speeding toward the light as it was turning yellow. "The police approached it, doing about 90."

Saying the investigation was ongoing, Memphis Police officials would not comment on the witness assertions.

When the cars collided, the squad car crashed into the private car's passenger side, causing heavy damage. The police car was also damaged, although not as severely.

When they hit, Smith said, it sounded "like something blew up."

This isn't the first time a Memphis police officer has been involved in a fatal crash while on duty.

Mark Weatherly struck and killed Stephanie Montague in 2009 as he was finishing his shift. During his trial, it was revealed that data from his air-bag showed that Weatherly was driving at speeds up to 101 mph seconds before the crash and 67 mph at the time of impact. He was acquitted of vehicular homicide.

In 2007, Officer William Gray was indicted on charges of vehicular homicide after he struck and killed pedestrian Mary Durant, 64. Information about the resolution of that case was not immediately available.

Copyright 2012 - The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.