A driver struck a parked Milton police cruiser last week, sending both parties to the hospital with minor injuries, a press release said.
Milton police, fire and rescue responded to the collision on West Milton Road, just south of Bear Trap Road, just before 1:15 p.m. September 5, police said.
Harlan Bellew, 85, of Milton told Colchester Police, which is investigating the collision, that he was traveling 30 mph on the 40-mph posted road, Sgt. Francis Gonyaw said, adding CPD hasn’t verified Bellew’s account.
Bellew’s 2006 Honda CRV struck Officer Ed Larente’s parked 2016 Ford Explorer cruiser from behind while Larente was conducting a traffic stop, Gonyaw said.
Larente, a Milton officer since 2012, was seated in his cruiser at the time. He had no passengers, police said.
The collision caused damage to the cruiser’s bumper, left rear tire and undercarriage and to Bellew’s bumper, right front fender and right front door. The vehicle Larente had stopped was unaffected in the crash, Gonyaw said.
Milton Police Chief Steve Laroche said the cruiser sustained roughly $6,600 in damage, and it will likely be out of service for several weeks.
Both Larente and Bellew were transported the to University of Vermont Medical Center with minor injuries and were released. Their vehicles had to be towed from the scene.
Traffic was rerouted onto nearby private property as police investigated the crash, Gonyaw said. The normal traffic patterns resumed after about an hour.
Laroche responded to the scene and saw Larente had positioned his vehicle in the proper manner, and there were adequate sight lines to recognize a cruiser parked with blue lights activated, he said.
Still, after every officer-involved collision, MPD debriefs and determines if officers could have done anything differently.
“Looking at the video, we did everything the right way, and that actually prevented this from being a lot worse,” he said.
Larente is back on duty, and being down a cruiser won’t drastically affect MPD’s patrols unless there’s a major incident, Laroche said.
The crash marks the first cruiser-involved collision since 2012 when an officer failed to yield to oncoming traffic while turning around on Route 7. Another driver was following too closely and struck the brand-new black-and-white. Insurance found both parties were at fault.
Gonyaw said he still has to collect witness statements before determining the official cause. It will be up to insurance companies to assign fault, he said.
This post was first published September 5 but has since been updated to reflect new details.