Thursday, July 7, 2011

Employee struck at DUI checkpoint doing well

I am happy to report that Greg Sowers, the KCPD fleet operations technician who was hit at a DUI checkpoint last month, is recovering nicely. After a week in the hospital and several more weeks at home recuperating, he was able to meet with the media today to discuss his ordeal. He's getting around pretty well on crutches but faces up to a year before his leg will be completely healed. He suffered a major break in his tibia, effectively separating the lower part of his leg from the upper part just below the knee. After a surgery with a metal plate and 10 screws, doctors have told him he could eventually get more than 90 percent of the original usage of his leg back. Greg said he misses running, playing softball and riding his motorcycle, but he acknowledged he's only alive "by the grace of God."

Greg credited his motorcycle riding with playing a part in saving his life. He said he's laid a bike down a few times before - never with more than minor injuries - and knew how to take a fall. Still, nothing could prepare him for what he experienced in the early morning hours of June 11. A car intent on fleeing the checkpoint plowed through it and struck Greg. He said he tried to get out of the way, but the car seemed to be coming at him, and he hit the hood. He grabbed onto a windshield wiper as the vehicle hit another police car and then took off. At one point, Greg said he realized he still had his flashlight in his hand and dropped it to grab onto the other wiper. He said all he wanted was for the car to slow down enough to let him off.

He eventually knew the car wasn't slowing down, so he said he curled up in a ball so he could be prepared to roll off if it didn't stop. This obscured some of the driver's vision, and Greg remembers the driver whipping the car back and forth to shake him off. He eventually did at 82nd and Troost, six blocks from the checkpoint. Greg said he hit the ground on all fours. His leg had been broken on the initial impact with the car. Police found him on the road a minute or two later and got an ambulance there. Greg gave credit to the tough jacket he'd borrowed from a motorcycle officer earlier that night for saving him from road rash and worse injuries.

Greg is a resilient guy. He said he'd love to work more DUI checkpoints, but he's going to honor the wishes of his mother and girlfriend and not do so.

Because of this incident, we've changed some of our protocol at checkpoints. Civilian employees like Greg no longer will stand in the check lane. Only officers will drive cars of suspected drunk drivers off the roadway, which is what Greg had been doing that night. Officers also now are equipped with Stop Sticks at DUI checkpoints to deflate the tires of those who might flee and cause a danger to others.

Tyrone Campbell, 25, has been charged with hitting Greg. He's pictured below.

All of us here at KCPD are so grateful Greg made it through this ordeal, and we wish him a very speedy recovery and swift return to our Fleet Operations Unit!

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