Officer Hurt In Crash As Police Pursue Suspect

Priam Stewart
Priam Stewart
Kevin Kwan
Kevin Kwan

Oct 26, 2006 07:03 PM

by Minna Sugimoto

(KHNL) - A police chase ends with an officer in the hospital, and a suspect still on the run.

The officer was hurt when a truck slammed into his patrol car in a Honolulu intersection. He was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon.

A police pursuit ends with a smashed patrol car, a downed traffic signal, and an injured officer.

"We were at our place of business," Priam Stewart, witness, said. "And we saw about 10 police cars with their sirens and lights going, and at a very, very high clip."

The suspect gets away after a flatbed transporting lumber broadsides the police car at the busy Pali Highway-School Street intersection.

"They take an oath and they expect it or, or at least are resigned to the risks that come with the job," Stewart said. "And I respect them for that."

It all began on Prospect Street. Police say a man driving a blue car reversed toward an officer, who managed to jump out of the way. The officer told investigators the suspect reversed into his squad car three times before taking off.

John Viernes was driving the flatbed Mauka-bound on the Pali. His supervisor says Viernes has been a commercial driver for the past 20 years.

"When he approached the intersection, he heard the sirens sounding so he stopped," Kevin Kwan, Honsador Lumber operations manager, said. "One officer, one of the cars went through. He didn't hear anything else and he started to proceed across. He had the green light. And that's when impact had happened."

Viernes offers to continue with his deliveries. But the company pulls him off the road as part of its standard procedures.

"He's shaken up," Kwan said.

The officer who was involved in the crash joined the police department three years ago.

Investigators say the suspect who drove off has tattoos on both of his forearms. He was in a blue Toyota with stolen license plates.