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FACEValue: Police officer drowns in floodwaters

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Photo: KY FACE

Case report: #18KY007
Issued by: Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: March 2, 2018

About 9 p.m. on the day of the incident, a 45-year-old police officer on patrol drove into floodwater that had overtaken the road. The officer radioed dispatch that he had driven his vehicle off the road and needed a tow truck. Two minutes later, the officer placed another call to dispatch, stating that his vehicle was quickly sinking and he needed a rescue. Five minutes after the first call, the vehicle was completely submerged. A witness stated that he saw the officer jump from the vehicle and into the water but never saw him resurface. Strong currents pulled the victim and his vehicle several hundred feet from where his vehicle entered the water. At 5:10 a.m., the officer was brought to shore, where the coroner pronounced him dead as a result of drowning.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Employers should ensure all workers are aware of flood-prone areas.
  • Workers should never overdrive their vehicle’s headlights – meaning a driver is moving at a speed at which his or her stopping distance is farther than the reach of the vehicle’s headlights.
  • County road departments should install roadway signs that warn of rapid flooding during rain and close flooded roads with temporary barricades as quickly as possible.
  • City governments should consider installing streetlights along roads in flood plains. The area had no streetlights or security lights, making it difficult to see if water was over the roadway.

To download the full report, go to sh-m.ag/30PtT9E.

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