Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Holes in a Crash Investigation

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Holes in a Crash Investigation

Article excerpt

State attorney must determine if police inquiry was adequate

The holes in, and questions about, the Sarasota Police Department's investigation of a four-car crash in November warrant an independent review.

Police Chief Bernadette DiPino is asking the state attorney to examine the investigation of the wreck on Siesta Drive. That's good: Based on the evidence collected so far, the victims of the crash and the public deserve to know whether the lead police investigator conducted an adequate probe and correctly declined to file charges.

Whether the prosecutor's office has the capacity to fill all the holes in the investigation and answer all the reasonable questions is another matter; if the office lacks the necessary expertise, we hope State Attorney Ed Brodsky will seek expert assistance.

The wreck occurred about 10 p.m. on Nov. 25. A maroon Honda, in which 20-year-old Jeremy Kuxhausen was riding, set off a chain of crashes involving three more cars.

A passenger in one of the other cars, Ken Erlick, sustained four broken ribs and damage to four vertebrae in his neck, according to a Herald-Tribune article by Lee Williams.

Erlick maintains that the investigation, conducted by traffic- crash specialist Officer Travis Forrister, was insufficient and should be re-examined. His argument has merit.

The missing driver

Based on reports from police and witnesses, Kuxhausen is the only person seen in the maroon Honda.

Yet Kuxhausen told investigator Forrister that he was not driving that car.

Interviewed by Forrister at the hospital, Kuxhausen also "denied being involved in the crash," according to the investigator's report. Kuxhausen refused to answer additional questions, Forrister reported.

Four months after the crash, in an unusual addition to the police report, one of the first officers at the scene said she found "a white male" the maroon Honda -- unconscious and "in the passenger's seat." The driver of the car in which Erlick was a passenger contends, however, that he saw Kuxhausen in the driver's seat. …

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