Florida Officer Not Wearing Seat Belt Ejected in Crash

April 21, 2011
Officer Terry Thiem was critically injured when his cruiser was hit by two cars Wednesday morning.


A 45-year-old police officer was responding to a burglary call Wednesday morning when his cruiser was hit by two cars, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, which said he was ejected from the cruiser and critically injured

Six others, a 30-year-old woman and five children, were also injured.

The accident occurred just after 7 a.m. on Beaver Street near Kings Street when the officer was driving west on Beaver Street. According to Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Bill Leeper, a car making a left turn from Line Street pulled into the path of the cruiser. The cruiser struck that car, which spun the police car into oncoming traffic, where it was hit by a third vehicle.

Officer Terry Thiem was taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center. Six people in the third car suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Troopers said rescuers had to cut open that vehicle to get them out.

An adult and four children had to be cut out of this vehicle, but authorities say none of their injuries were life-threatening.

Driver Danny Lashawn Jones, 34, was taken to Shands in serious condition. Channel 4's Tarik Minor learned Jones' most serious injury was a broken leg.

Five teenagers Jones was driving to school were taken to Wolfson Children's Hospital with minor injuries.

The driver of the car that troopers said caused the wreck, Katrina Bobbitt, 33, and her 5-year-old son were not injured.

Troopers said the officer was not wearing a seat belt. Investigators were still investigating the speed of the vehicles involved.

By reviewing surveillance video, they confirmed that the cruiser's lights and siren were activated at the time of the crash.

The person driving this Pontiac Vibe that pulled out in front of the police car was not injured.

The FHP said Bobbitt would likely face charges, even though he told troopers he did not see the police car coming. Under state law, public service vehicles with emergency lights on always have the right of way.

"She just pulled out and didn't go very far," Leeper said. "She just barely hit him and caused him to go sideways into the opposite lane and struck the third vehicle. That's what caused most of the damage."

Leeper said there were some bushes and poles that would have obscured her view of Beaver Street.

Thiem has been with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office since 2004. He remained in critical condition at noon.

Sheriff John Rutherford and a steady stream of police officers have visited Shands on Tuesday to check on Thiem's condition and support his family.

Thiem's father-in-law told Channel 4 they are praying for his recovery.

Copyright 2011 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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