Jul 14, 2010 8:19 PM by Monica Quintero
Two Santa Maria police officers have been injured in car crashes in a matter of three days. The most recent happened on Morrison Avenue, near Pine Street Tuesday night. Forty-year-old officer Jeff Lopez was side-swiped while taking someone he arrested to the station for processing.
Lieutenant Rico Flores says the officer hit is lucky. Lucky, the suspect was traveling at a low speed. Lt. Flores said, "He had some pain to the upper extremities but he seems to be okay." Officers say 53-year-old Robert Kelly Junior of Santa Maria is responsible for the crash. He was arrested for felony DUI.
Lt. Flores has been with the Santa Maria police department for 21 years. He describes the two incidents, just days apart, as a fluke and talked about the emotional aspect. He said, "Thank God no one was killed, but also that thank God they were able to walk away." This will also have a financial impact on the police department. It will cost around $5,000 to fix the vehicle in Tuesday's crash. The vehicle involved in Sunday's crash is a total loss, meaning it will cost the department around $50,000.
That crash involved 34-year-old officer Damon Badenall. He was driving to back up another officer who was chasing a burglary suspect. Badenall spun into the center median on north broadway and hit a tree. Lt. Flores said, "He's out of ICU and he's doing well. His family members are with him."
Two reminders being an officer is a dangerous job. They never know what to expect but can always use your help out on the roads. Officers say if you do hear sirens or see them coming, your best bet is to pull over in a safe manner. They also say drivers need to always be aware of their surroundings. The California Highway Patrol is handling both of the crash investigations.
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