LEAWOOD, Kan. — Struck from behind while making a stop, a Leawood police officer is lucky to walk away with only stitches.
Leawood police say the majority of crashes they respond to involve distracted drivers. This crash, they say, really hit home because it involved one of their own. Now they are reminding drivers just how dangerous distracted driving can be.
Thursday afternoon near College Boulevard and Tomahawk Creek Parkway, 13-year Leawood police veteran Vernon Graves pulled a driver over on a traffic violation.
“In this particular case there wasn’t a side street for the offender to pull off on so they just stopped in a lane of traffic and thats fairly common,” said Capt. Kevin Cauley of Leawood PD.
After gathering some information the officer got back into his patrol car. Seconds later he was hit from behind.
Cauley describes the impact the crash had on the officer, “When he got hit from behind, he was basically thrown around the car.”
The officer, unbuckled and unaware of the danger behind him, gouged his head on the shotgun rack mounted behind him.
“He was conscious the entire time but he lost a lot of blood,” said Cauley.
Police say the 68-year-old driver was going at least 25 miles an hour when he struck the officers SUV.
“You never know when a police car is going to stop right in front of you or when you look up and the last thing you see are the rotating lights and by then its too late if you’re not paying attention,” said Cauley.
With no indication the man braked before the crash, investigators believe he may have been distracted by the car radio.
“The officer was lucky that he was only hurt to the extent that he was and you know, we really need people to pay attention when they are out there,” said Cauley.
Officer Graves received a few stitches and is now cleared to go back to work, but police say Graves is very lucky. Graves is actually in the motorcycle unit — Thursday he just happened to be patrolling in an SUV.