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Officer in crash likely not using lights, sirens

Thu., Feb. 3, 2011, 1:47 p.m.

A Spokane police officer likely did not have his patrol car’s emergency lights and siren activated when he struck and killed a pedestrian Sunday, investigators said today.

Detectives probing the fatal crash that killed John A. Van Curler, 52, are asking anyone who witnessed the crash Sunday at 10:30 p.m. near North Monroe Street and West Montgomery Avenue to contact police, including the driver of a white vehicle that passed the scene right after the crash.

Officer Gordon Ennis is scheduled to return to patrol. He was interviewed Wednesday and gave a blood sample on Sunday.

Ennis, an eight-year veteran, was responding to a “trouble unknown” call at the time of the collision.

Ennis said the white vehicle slowed down as it approached the crash but accelerated southbound on Monroe and hasn’t been contacted.

“The officer was not making an emergency response, so detectives believe the patrol car would not have had its emergency lights or siren on,” said Sgt. Dave Reagan in a news release.Reagan is the spokesman for the investigation team, comprised of detectives from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Police Department and Washington State Patrol.

In a telephone interview this afternoon, Reagan refused to say whether detectives asked Ennis about the emergency lights or sirens, or how fast he had been traveling.

A man who owns a bar near the intersection told The Spokesman-Review the crash occurred after the business closed and he did not know if the officer had his lights on or at what speed he was driving. A man working at a nearby gas station also did not witness the crash.

Another vehicle came up behind Ennis’ patrol vehicle, but that driver turned west on Montgomery.

Investigators are urging both drivers — or anyone else who saw anything that night — to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Investigators only want information about what people might have seen; they don’t seek to “penalize the driver for anything that might have caused them to not stop and assist,” Reagan said.

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