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Four injured in police cruiser crash

By Mike Dinoffria and Daily Planet Wire Services
Saturday July 13, 2002

A Berkeley police officer and three vacationers were injured Thursday night when a Buick collided with a cruiser at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Oregon Street, police said. 

Lenard and Michelle Hawes and Robert Adams of Salt Lake City and Lynn Chronister of Whittier were in the vehicle, said California Highway Patrol Sgt L.D. White.  

Police did not say which of the four in the Buick were injured. Officer Charles Davis was treated for scrapes and back pain. All were released the same night from Alta Bates and Highland hospitals, said Berkeley Police Lt Ed McBride. 

At 9:15 p.m. Davis was traveling southbound on Martin Luther King Jr. Way when his patrol car collided with a four-door Buick sedan traveling westbound on Oregon Street. 

It is still unclear whether the civilian driver and his three passengers failed to stop at the intersection of the two streets, or if the driver did stop briefly and then continue through the intersection without noticing the oncoming police vehicle, police said. 

The officer was driving about 25 mph down the major thoroughfare, which has right-of-way over motorists entering the road from Oregon Street. 

Police said that the officer was unable to stop his car in time to avoid the four-door Buick sedan. The front of his Crown Victoria Interceptor hit the side of the Buick. 

Police units responding to the scene helped the officer out of the cruiser because the its steering wheel had bent and pinned Davis against the door. The airbag of the police cruiser was deployed, police said. 

Police said they do not suspect that alcohol was a factor in the accident. 

The California Highway Patrol is still investigating the cause of the accident, White said.