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Bend police cite 2 DCSO deputies for ‘excessive speed’ in injury crashes

DCSO patrol cars Butler Market N. Hwy. 97 crashes
Bend Police Dept.
Two Deschutes County sheriff's deputies have been cited following crashes last November on Butler Market Road, in January on N. Highway 97

(Update: Adding video, Bend PD comments)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend police said Tuesday they have cited two Deschutes County sheriff's deputies after determining that "excessive speed" -- hitting 90 mph on emergency calls -- were the "primary factor" in two injury crashes last November on Butler Market Road and in January on North Highway 97.

The Nov. 25 crash occurred at 8:10 a.m. and involved Deputy Kiersten Ochsner, who was responding to a rollover crash on Highway 20 East when her Dodge Charger struck a 2016 Subaru on Butler Market Road near Eagle Road, Lt. Juli McConkey said.

After an investigation that included obtaining speed data from deputy's air bag control module, "it was determined that Deputy Ochsner’s excessive speed was the primary factor and cause for the collision, as reflected in the officer’s report," McConkey said.

The lieutenant said it also was determined there was insufficient evidence to support prior witness statements that the other driver failed to stop at the stop sign at Daniel Road and Butler Market Road, as earlier reported.

Bend police also investigated a Jan. 5 crash, which occurred shortly after 8 p.m. at North Highway 97 and Clausen Drive

Deputy Clint Baltzor was heading north on the highway, with lights and siren, en route to a sheriff's office SWAT Team call-out in Terrebonne when the crash occurred, McConkey said.

A black Nissan Rogue was in front of Baltzor, and the other driver tried to yield to the right, but could not do so to another vehicle in the right lane. The Nissan's driver then tried to yield to the left, but a concrete barrier prevented that move as well.

Baltzor's patrol car, a Dodge Durango, then struck the Nissan, which in turn hit a Honda Odyssey.

In this case as well, investigators had the air bag control module analyzed and "determined that Deputy Baltzor’s speed was the primary factor and cause for the collision as reflected in the officers report," McConkey said.

The air bag module examinations by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office showed Baltzor's Dodge Dugango was going 95 mph five seconds before the crash and 53 mph a second before the "algorithm enable" (force) was triggered, matching data from the accelerator and brake pedals.

"Deputy Baltzor was unable to safely control his vehicle at the speed he was traveling with the obstructions in the roadway," the Bend police report stated.

An Oregon State Police examination of the Dodge Charger's air bag module data concluded Ochsner was going about 90 mph in the 45 mph zone, "too high for her to be able to see and react to hazards" beyond the corner, and had slowed to 68 mph at the time of the crash.

Investigators decided both deputies violated ORS 820.320, illegal operation of an emergency vehicle, specifically Section G, which says" “the driver of an emergency vehicle or ambulance must not exceed any designated speed limit to an extent which endangers persons or property.”

Deputies Ochsner and Baltzor were issued citations on Monday, McConkey said. They carry a potential fine of up to $265.

McConkey told NewsChannel 21, "There isn't any speed limit that is designated that you can't go over. However, we need to make sure we are not going to cause any damage (to) personal property as we are responding to incidents."

"It's our responsibility that we are getting to the scene that we are supposed to be responding to in a safe manner," she said.

About a month ago, the crashes prompted the sheriff's office to announce added training for deputies in safely responding to emergencies.

Officers are required to participate in emergency vehicles operation courses where they drive through different cone patterns.

"We do talk about pursuit policy and our liability," McConkey said. "So, I think thats important that we are discussing these things with our officers and making sure we are driving within reason."

Article Topic Follows: Accidents and Crashes
deschutes county sheriff's office

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Barney Lerten

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