(Aug. 2, 2013) In an unfortunate coincidence of events, City Council approved a purchase order for nine new Chevy Tahoes for the Ocean City Police Department Tuesday afternoon, at almost the exact same time that, further uptown, one of those same vehicles was involved in a high-speed collision.
The crash occurred around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of 28th Street and Coastal Highway. An OCPD Tahoe, heading north to respond to another incident, went through the red light and struck the driver’s side of a a Lexus sedan that was traveling east-to-west on 28th Street, apparently unaware of the police vehicle’s approach.
“The officer was responding, with lights and sirens, to the Route 90 Bridge,” said OCPD Public Information Officer Mike Levy. “We had an accident there and had to close down a lane temporarily. He approached the intersection, and the other vehicle was traveling from the east side.”
The exact speed of the crash is yet unknown, but the impact pushed the sedan into the southbound lane of Coastal Highway and caved in most of the vehicle’s left side.
Fortunately, off-duty EMS personnel from the Ocean City Fire Department were nearby and rendered immediate aid to the driver. Due to the damage to the vehicle however, he could not be extracted until the OCFD’s Heavy Rescue unit was able to cut the roof off of the car.
According to city reports, the driver of the sedan was taken to University Shock Trauma in Baltimore with a fractured pelvis. The OCPD driver was treated and released at Atlantic General Hospital for minor injuries.
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting — endeding at roughly the same time the accident occurred – the council approved a purchase order for nine new Tahoes for the OCPD. The cost of the four marked vehicles was $29,539 each, while another five unmarked Tahoes will run $28,915 apiece.
The order also included a new one-ton Ford van to replace the ‘paddy wagon’ which was involved in a crash earlier this summer.
Councilman Joe Mitrecic cast the only dissenting vote against the purchase.
“I’m still opposed to buying Tahoes to patrol and monitor this town,” Mitrecic said.
While the OCPD has maintained a small number of four-wheel-drive SUVs for many years, mainly for beach operations, the department has recently begun to introduce two-wheel-drive Tahoes, designed for road pursuit, as a replacement for the traditional Ford Crown Victoria patrol car.
While the Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicle or ‘PPV’ is bulkier than the Crown Victoria sedan, it offers considerably more cabin space for the increasing amount of equipment officers have in their cars. All OCPD vehicles now have dash-mounted laptop computers, and most have an automated, electronic ticketing system and printer as well.
“Due to the mounting of equipment and the configuration of the sedan, it’s just easier and more efficient to put all the electronics in the Tahoes,” Levy said.
He doubted, however, that the crash would’ve been less severe if a vehicle other than a Tahoe was involved.
“The Crown Victorias are almost as heavy,” Levy said. “Once you’re dealing with a certain speed, the difference in weight isn’t going to make that much of a difference. But we’ll obviously know more once the investigation is complete.”