Jul 12, 2010 11:13 PM by Ariel Wesler
A police officer is recovering tonight after he crashed his patrol car into a tree while trying to help catch a burglary suspect in Santa Maria. It happened on north Broadway just before 4:30 Sunday morning.
"It's clear that he shouldn't have survived and he did," said Santa Maria Police Chief Dan Macagni.
It's hard to believe 34-year old Damon Badenell was alive when paramedics pulled him from the wreckage. He was driving northbound on Broadway and had just crossed Main when his car spun out, hit the center median and slammed into a tree.
"This is one of those things that's difficult for the employees and the officers that were on shift with him and the officer he was rolling to back up," Macagni said.
Investigators don't know the exact cause of the crash, but they say mother nature is partly to blame. The roads were slick from a recent rainstorm. Badenell was rushed to Cottage Hospital in Santa Babara with a head injury and multiple broken bones.
"He's got to go through some therapy and some rehabilitation to get some things working properly and then he'll be back. He's in good physical shape and he's determined," Macagni said.
Officer Badenell has only been with the Santa Maria police department for the last two years, but in that time, his coworkers say he's made a name for himself by working hard to make the streets safer.
"He just won the Mothers Against Drunk Driving award this year for the most drunk driving arrests of any police officer at the Santa Maria Police Department," Macagni said.
A department that continues to support him while being reminded of the daily dangers they all face at every turn.
Badenell is expected to remain in the hospital for the rest of the week. He has been upgraded from serious to fair condition. The California Highway Patrol is leading the investigation.
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