Sheriff considers training after crashes

Sunday, August 24th 2008, 7:18 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

STILLWATER, Okla. -- After a series of incidents, the Payne County Sheriff admitted his deputies may need more training behind the wheel.

The most recent incident sent a deputy to the hospital, following a Tuesday morning crash that totaled his car.

OHP troopers investigated the crash and said Deputy Justin Colton may have been distracted by his police radio while responding to a call of suspicious activity.

The crash report said the deputy left the road to the right, and then overcorrected to the left, flew off the road about 60 feet into the air and hit a tree.

It took firefighters almost an hour to free the deputy who has a broken shoulder, several broken ribs and some internal injuries.

"He went off on the south side of the road, came back across on the north side and went down an embankment and into a ravine," Sheriff Noel Bagwell said. ""He's a very, very fortunate young man to come out of that alive."

Fortunate may be an understatement, considering this is the second time Deputy Colton has wrecked a cruiser in the past 90 days.  At first, the sheriff said that incident was due to a "medical condition."

"Same type of situation, same type, uh, we're not sure if...he was a medical issue or just went to sleep early in the morning. He was on a night shift and went off the roadway and crashed," Bagwell said.

Deputy Colton isn't the only one who's had bad luck on the roads. 

Earlier this month another deputy, also responding to a call, was involved in a crash.  A mechanic said it's the forth Payne County unit to be wrecked this year.

"There will be some refresher driver training courses as time goes on for everybody in our department that drives a unit," Bagwell said.

As far as Deputy Colton and his future at the Payne County Sheriff's office, the sheriff said that's something he needs to discuss with Colton personally.

Deputy Colton has a wife and a young child and the sheriff said they've been staying at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa while the deputy recovers. He is currently in good condition.