By Holly Hunt
A police officer suffered injuries after a motorist struck his car Tuesday morning.
Sgt. Phil Quinlan, a West Valley police officer, pulled over on 3500 South when he noticed two cars parked on the narrow shoulder, partially blocking a lane. Concerned about the potential travel hazard, Quinlan parked behind the vehicles and turned on his emergency lights to warn other cars.
One of the cars on the side of the road had mechanical difficulties. Quinlan called for tow truck assistance to clear up the problem and went back to his vehicle to wait. He was sitting in his car when he was rear-ended.
According to police reports, a woman in a 2004 Chevrolet Celebrity struck Quinlan”s car at 1:10 a.m.
Lt. Tom McLachlan, a West Valley police officer, said she hit Quinlan about 50 mph. In addition, she left no skid marks on the road to prove she attempted to brake before the impact.
“I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a vehicle coming at a high rate of speed,” Quinlan said. “The one thing I remember going through my mind is, ”this car is going to hit me.””
The events passed so fast Quinlan alleged he did not have time to fasten his seat belt at the time of the collision. He was brought to Cottonwood Hospital for evaluation and treatment. McLachlan said Quinlan suffered a severe neck and shoulder strain and will be wearing a medical collar while he recovers.
Brooks Stevenson, public relations for Cottonwood Hospital said he couldn”t comment about Quinlan”s condition, except that he was released from the hospital.
After the wreck, the Utah Highway Patrol responded to the traffic accident to investigate the situation. The West Valley police contacted the outside agency to avoid conflict of interests, Quinlan said.
The woman remained on the scene as the troopers arrived. Sgt. Wade Breur, from the Utah Department of Public Safety, said the woman underwent tests for impairment and failed them because she was under the influence of prescription medication.
“She had a blood alcohol content that was over twice the .08 limit,” McLachlan said.
The woman was self-medicated and blew a 1.89 on the Breathalyzer, Breur said.
The woman faces charges for DUI and negligent collision. Also, according to a report from a West Valley car shop, the police vehicle is a total loss and beyond repair.
Quinlan said he felt fortunate that he parked his patrol car far enough back that it did not strike the other cars.
“Anytime you are dealing with traffic on a major roadway like that, it”s always dangerous when officers conduct traffic stops or they assist motorists,” Quinlan said.