A Marathon County Sheriff’s Department deputy appeared to have been speeding at 122 mph on Highway 107 just before his squad car slammed into the back of an SUV and injured its driver on Tuesday night, investigators said Friday.
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Dash cam video shows Marathon County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Van Offeren driving at high speed to the scene of an accident on Highway 107 north of Highway 29 on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. Marathon County Sheriff’s Department
Deputy Michael Van Offeren was on his way to a crash on Highway 107 at Highway 29 on Tuesday night with his lights and siren on when he crashed into the back of an SUV driven by Paul Fredrickson of Marathon.
Wausau police are investigating the crash at the request of the Sheriff’s Department and will forward their final report to prosecutors to determine whether any charges are appropriate.
Video taken from Van Offeren’s squad car indicated that it was traveling at 122 mph just before the crash, but Wausau police said the video cut out just before the crash and resumed 41 seconds later, meaning footage of the actual impact and position of both vehicles at that time was not recorded.
“We believe this was a system error as a result of the impact,” Wausau police said. “However, we are investigating the cause of the error by contacting the video system manufacturer and working with our local IT department. The speed of the squad as measured by the video system was 122 miles per hour when the video ends. The speed given by the video system may or may not be exact. The speed at the time of impact is still under investigation.”
State law requires police officers to drive with “due regard under the circumstances,” which is defined in standard police training as “a reasonable careful person, performing similar duties and under similar circumstances, would act in the same manner,” the release said.
When rushing to an incident with lights and siren on, police are required to consider the type of incident to which they are responding, the severity of the incident, whether an emergency response is likely to reduce the possibility of death or injury, weather conditions, road conditions, time of day, day of week, officer’s familiarity with the road and geography, density of population, performance capability of the squad car and the officer’s driving experience, the release said.