Texas Motorcycle Officer Killed in Crash
Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Updated: January 14th, 2010 09:04 AM GMT-05:00
BY NATHANIEL JONES and TRACI SHURLEY
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A 34-year-old police officer running his lights and siren to pull over a speeding vehicle on South Cooper Street was killed early Wednesday in a collision with a school bus, police said.
Officer Craig Gordon Story was pronounced dead at the scene in the 1800 block of South Cooper near the intersection with Lynda Lane.
Witnesses said they heard a sound like an explosion and saw the motorcycle catch fire.
The bus driver and nine passengers, ages 6-13, were taken to nearby Arlington High School, where investigators interviewed them, a school spokeswoman said.
"On top of the horror of it happening, they also had to deal with the fear," counselor Lynn Darst said. "Some of them thought their bus was on fire."
It wasn't, and none of the children required medical treatment at the scene. All were picked up by adults and taken home by 9:30 a.m., Darst said.
Story was the second Arlington police officer killed in a wreck on South Cooper, a major north-south thoroughfare of central Arlington. He was the seventh officer to die on duty, according to the department's Web site.
In 1994, rookie officer Craig Hanking was killed near the scene of Wednesday's crash. His patrol car slammed into the side of a U.S. Postal Service tractor-trailer at South Cooper and Park Row Drive as he responded to a burglary.
Story was a decorated seven-year veteran of the Arlington force, Police Chief Theron Bowman said at an emotional news conference at police headquarters, where the American, Texas and Arlington flags were lowered to half-staff.
"This is a very difficult time for me personally and for this Police Department and for most police officers in the state of Texas and around the country," Bowman said.
Story "absolutely adored his wife, Danielle, and he was crazy about his 2-year-old son, John," Bowman said. "He referred to his son as one of the most handsome boys born on Earth."
The couple recently found out that Danielle was pregnant with a second child.
Story was in the department's 24th Academy Class in 2002. He had been on the tactical unit but joined the traffic unit last year. He worked patrol in the north and east districts, the department said. He was nominated for East Officer of the Year in 2005 and had received 19 commendations.
A native of Wichita Falls, Story graduated in 2001 from Midwestern State University with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, the department said. He was known for maintaining a high level of fitness. He had a black belt in jujitsu and was an amateur wrestler and weightlifter. He was bilingual, in English and Spanish, and had been working with a fellow officer to learn Vietnamese, police said.
The department had a private memorial service Wednesday afternoon, said Tiara Ellis Richard, a police spokeswoman.
Story was working traffic enforcement Wednesday morning on South Cooper north of West Pioneer Parkway when he tried to pull over a speeding northbound vehicle with his lights and siren on, Richard said. The southbound bus was turning left onto Lynda Lane when the collision occurred.
The students on the bus attended Crow, Ditto and Dunn elementary schools and Bailey and Young junior high schools, said Amy Casas, a school district spokeswoman.
Darst, lead counselor at Arlington High School, said she and another counselor went to the scene to bring the students from the bus to the high school.
Counselors from the students' home campuses were summoned and will follow up with the children, Darst said. She also plans to meet with high school students who saw the wreck on their way to school.
South Cooper was closed for several hours as police investigated but reopened about 2 p.m.
Witnesses help officer
Mark Smith said he was northbound on Cooper, driving his daughter to Arlington High, when he saw a police motorcycle's lights flashing behind him. Then the siren came on, Smith said, and he moved over to let the officer pass.
After the officer went by, Smith turned onto Inwood Drive, he said. But he heard a crash, so he turned into the parking lot of a business and got out to help.
The motorcycle was burning as he and another man pulled the officer away from it, he said.
"We took off our jackets and tried to put out the flames on him," Smith said. "I'm still shook up about it."
Fabian Monroy said he was unlocking the door of the nearby Goo-Goo carwash when he heard a screech and a boom.
He looked up and heard what sounded like an explosion.
"Everyone was slamming on the brakes, and I saw the flames shooting high," he said.
"Those flames were pretty intense from the gas tank. That tank blew."
Monroy said he walked closer and saw the officer on the sidewalk, about 15 feet from the wreckage.
"People were already there, but from the way it looked, there was nothing anyone could do," he said.
The bus driver
According to a statement from the school district, the 54-year-old bus driver was hired in April. His employment record includes no reprimands or commendations. He previously lived in Florida, where he was self-employed, the statement said.
He was taken to police headquarters to talk to police but was not under arrest, Casas said.
Superintendent Jerry McCullough said district staffers were cooperating fully with police.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service