Current weather

  • Overcast
  • 34°
    Overcast
  • Comment

Investigation of wreck involving trooper remains unresolved

Posted: June 12, 2012 - 7:46am  |  Updated: June 12, 2012 - 3:16pm
M. Scott Moon
FILE — Department of Transportation workers load the Alaska State Trooper Dodge Charger that was involved in a mid-February early-morning crash on the Kenai Spur Highway onto a flatbed truck. An Alaska motor vehicle collision report has revealed new details from the accident.

According to an Alaska motor vehicle collision report submitted by an Alaska State Trooper investigator, Trooper Thad Hamilton in February collided with a truck when its driver failed to yield for his emergency vehicle.

On Feb. 22 at 11:32 p.m., Hamilton was responding to a domestic violence call in Nikiski and collided with Soldotna resident Rodney Peterkin's Dodge extended cab truck. The collision occurred at the Kenai Spur Highway and Cook Inlet Drive intersection, according to the report.

Peterkin was traveling north toward Nikiski as he prepared to turn left onto Cook Inlet Drive from the highway. The trooper's vehicle had its lights and siren activated and was traveling in the same direction, according to the report.

The two vehicles collided as Peterkin turned left, and the trooper attempted to avoid the collision by veering into the southbound lane of the highway. The trooper's vehicle struck the Dodge on the driver's side near its cab. Hamilton's vehicle left the roadway and rolled multiple times down a snowbank, according to the report.

The accident totaled both vehicles, troopers reported.

Peterkin was issued a citation for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle on March 1, according to court records. He received minor injuries from the collision.

Investigating Trooper Eugene Fowler did not indicate in the report whether drugs or alcohol were suspected as a contributing factor of the collision. A blood alcohol test was not given to Peterkin, according to the report.

According to the report, invesitgators concluded that Peterkin had failed to observe a traffic control device and also made an improper turn.

Hamilton sustained severe injuries in the wreck and was transported to Central Peninsula Hospital.

A traffic trial was scheduled for April 26, but has been postponed twice.

In his two requests to continue the trial at a later date, Fowler said Hamilton remained unable to return to work. He is on injured leave, said Beth Ipsen, troopers' information officer. Hamilton is the key witness for the trial.

In the collision report, investigators indicated that Hamilton was not driving improperly.

The report also says the wreck occurred when the road was dark but illuminated, its surface was dry and the weather was clear.

The traffic trial is set for June 28 at the Kenai Courthouse.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.

  • Comment

Comments (16) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
jlmh
352
Points
jlmh 06/12/12 - 02:01 pm
1
2
Go figure

As reported, it sounds like Hamilton was the reckless driver. If someone is turning left, you don't pass them on the left. Was he not paying attention? He hit Peterkin on the driver's side cab, so Peterkin must have been engaged in the turn already. Otherwise he would have collided with the trooper car's passenger side. Sure, Peterkin should have seen the trooper coming and gotten out of the way. Or maybe the trooper should have seen a car in front of him and braked. You can't just flick on the lights and assume the Red Sea will part for you. How long had his lights and sirens been on, after all? Long enough for drivers to notice and yield? It's discouraging to see troopers sticking up for each other when a civilian in the exact same scenario would have been liable for the incident.

Obfuscate
235
Points
Obfuscate 06/13/12 - 11:11 am
1
0
Go figure indeed.

It is very discouraging anytime you see Law Enforcement Officers (Public Servants) sticking up for each other in this manner. It is just as discouraging for the local ‘unbiased’ Newspaper to print an obviously biased article like this. I wonder what happened to the News Reporters that actually investigated a story before printing it. Printing what the DA’s office gives you is not an independent investigation.
Jlmh raises some very good points/questions. This situation highlights the fact that it is very difficult to weigh ones options when speed well in excess of twice the legal speed limit is involved. Look at the skid marks, the damage done and the distance the car travelled – it is simple physics, this was not a 55 mph crash. Hopefully there is actually a fair trial, which includes all the evidence, so this blatant misuse of power is documented. And soon. If this involved two ‘regular citizens’ it would be over already.

907nomad
29
Points
907nomad 06/14/12 - 04:31 am
0
1
You and I weren't There.....

to both jlmh and obfuscate: you judge that the troopers are sticking up for each other and have each other's backs? Really? If this happened to you on either side of the equation, you wouldn't have any buddies in your corner? you have no one that would stick up for you whether you were right or wrong?? I call BS. You want to know what I think? I think the trooper did have his lights and sirens on, probably for miles, especially if it was dark out. I think that Peterkin, like most drivers I've observed on the roadways, have no clue what's going on around them. They are so oblivious to anything other than what's in their vehicle, completely unaware of their surroundings. Was he on his cell phone, maybe texting? Was his stereo thumping bass so loud you could hear him coming from a mile away, but he couldn't hear a piercing siren? were all his mirrors intact and functional? If he had been paying attention, he would have seen the trooper coming and CORRECTLY moved off to the right shoulder, regardless of how close he was to his turn on the left. If he DID see the trooper coming, why did he think he could accurately judge whether he had enough time to make his turn and get out of the way? He deserved the citation and probably more for a stunt like that. Bottom line: if you see lights or hear a siren move over. Don't try to outthink an emergency vehicle's intentions or assume you know where they're going, how fast they're getting there and the path they're going to take to get there.

kilfoyja
14
Points
kilfoyja 06/14/12 - 05:48 am
1
1
Didn't need to be there!

The evidence speaks for itself. There is no dispute regarding how the accident occurred. Trooper Hamilton's cruiser, approaching from behind, plowed into Mr. Peterkin's vehicle as he was turning left. Mr. Peterkin was in control of his vehicle, Trooper Hamilton was not.

907nomad
29
Points
907nomad 06/14/12 - 07:29 am
0
1
Evidence?

Evidence is ALWAYS circumstantial and subject to interpretation. kilfoya- you STILL were not there and unless you have the gift of omniscience (you'll may need to look that up), you don't know, nor do you have proof of anything. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I'm not in law enforcement. I am a citizen who appreciates the people who are, and 99.9% of the time do it well and to the best of their ability. Is it an ivory tower or a glass house you're living in? Either abode, you should consider moving, especially if you like throwing stones.

kilfoyja
14
Points
kilfoyja 06/14/12 - 09:59 am
0
1
Evidence!

I didn't need to be there, the PHYSICAL evidence is not in dispute. I've made no judgement of the officer's motives or the value of law enforcement to society. By your own admission, they do it well 99.9% of the time, My point is that in this instance (the 0.01%) the officer didn't.

Obfuscate
235
Points
Obfuscate 06/14/12 - 11:34 am
2
0
I think 907nomad missed my

I think 907nomad missed my first point, so I will attempt to clarify. It makes no difference if I ‘have buddies that would stick of for me whether right or wrong’ because I am not a Law Enforcement Officer. It is expected, at least for me and apparently you, that some of the general population will choose friendship over morals in certain circumstances. But the general population is not entrusted with the responsibility of public safety. The position of Law Enforcement Officers must be held to a higher standard of morality. The position does not, and cannot, allow for ‘sticking up whether right or wrong’.
907nomad can think what they want regarding the Troopers lights or Peterkin’s attention, which is the great thing about opinions. I truly hope all those details (read evidence) are exposed during the trial. My opinion is the most important pieces of evidence will be lost as the brotherhood protects one of its members. It’s great to have opinions isn’t it?
One bit of advice that I would pass along to 907nomad (or anyone) – watch out when using finite words such as ‘always’. Making comments like ‘always circumstantial and subject to interpretation’ could lead some people to believe that you think you are omniscient.
But back to topic. 907nomad is correct; it is possible that Peterkin acted in an improper manner. However this does not absolve the Trooper of any wrongdoing. If the Trooper was traveling at a very high rate of speed, then he was not following his entrusted responsibility to protect the public. In fact he could have caused additional danger to the public. I don’t think we want to get into a debate over ends justifying means in this venue. Furthermore, if the Trooper was acting proper in all manners and the DA is certain of the guilty party, then why postpone the trial? If Officer Hamilton is still in such bad shape that a public appearance is impossible, then I wish him only the best for a speedy recovery.

907nomad
29
Points
907nomad 06/14/12 - 11:35 am
0
1
what about the the circumstances of the physical evidence?

kilfoyja-Yes the physical evidence is not in dispute, but how that physical evidence came to be is still circumstantial. AGAIN, you were not there, you did not see how things progressed from start to finish. You have made ASSUMPTIONS of everyone's actions and decisions. I refer once again to your omniscience. You are making an absolutely positive statement that everything that went wrong was the troopers fault, that this trooper was the .01% that law enforcement has erred. You haven't questioned any other possibility?? How arrogant is that? What with your infallible, unflinching knowledge of this incident, it's a wonder we will ever need another eyewitness to ACCIDENTS such as these.
I truly pray you are NEVER involved in an accident where the PHYSICAL evidence is not questioned for the circumstances, and someone JUST LIKE YOU lays blame and judgment so easily upon you.

907nomad
29
Points
907nomad 06/14/12 - 11:43 am
0
0
Always is too finite

yes obfuscate- always is a very broad but finite word when referring to certain subjects. I am sure there are many instances where Evidence is not ALWAYS circumstantial and subject to interpretation. I retract that statement and replace it with MANY. Thank you for the point you made.

kilfoyja
14
Points
kilfoyja 06/14/12 - 12:03 pm
1
0
Obfuscation !

Your passionate defense of law enforcement is admirable. Your feeble attempts to cloud the isue with word games is not.

907nomad
29
Points
907nomad 06/14/12 - 12:56 pm
0
1
The issue was already cloudy.

Don't blame me for clouding an issue that is nothing but cloudy and grey already. Excuse me for trying to show some compassion and open mindedness that seems to to be so absent in society. Not everything is so black and white. Predjudice runs rampant. Take something from it if you feel persecuted or guilty as I play devil's Advocate and hope for less judgmental attitudes and more "what if it happened to me" kind of thinking.

Obfuscate
235
Points
Obfuscate 06/14/12 - 01:16 pm
0
1
Good point

Since you brought it up 907nomad, I would love to hear what kind of compassion and open mindedness you would show if 'it happened to you'. Say you were the person making the left turn and you didn't notice the lights 30 to 40 car lengths behind you, but in the 3 seconds it took you to turn, you are struck by another vehicle. Now imagine that you are being charged with a crime that you certainly didn't mean to commit in an incident where you feel at least some of the responsibility lay on the other party involved. Please - be honest.

kilfoyja
14
Points
kilfoyja 06/14/12 - 01:46 pm
1
0
Clarity

907nomad, The point is that there is nothing cloudy about the physical evidence. Circumstances may have brought about that evidence, but it is not in dispute.

Your attempt to claim the moral high ground rings pretty hollow given the comments you've made.

907nomad
29
Points
907nomad 06/14/12 - 02:44 pm
0
1
i have been in a similiar situation

I was in a residential area doing the 30mph speed limit, but I ran a stop sign. I was T-boned and rolled 3 times. The other driver was doing 50-55mph. Now with just that info, tell me who was at fault, who was charged and what your judgment would be with just this info. No witnesses, but only questioning of the parties involved and law enforcement's trained assessments. I don't make snap judgments on a situation where all the facts have yet to be revealed. That is all I was trying to convey on this running commentary. I was trying to get the point across that there are 2 sides to everything and while guessing what happened is human nature, ranting judgement for one side or another is not fair. I do not doubt that both parties of this accident are at fault to some point. I never said one was totally blameless over the other. I was addressing the "all or nothing" commenters who had no wiggle room in their assessments and judgements. When something like this accident happens, the involved have enough to deal with emotionally and physically without ignorant contempt being spewed in their direction. But when people come off as so know-it-all and absolute, it serves no purpose. That lesson I have personally learned and is why I played the devil's advocate. Did it get these commentators thinking? Maybe. Will people think before they judge? I truly hope so. That is all.

kilfoyja
14
Points
kilfoyja 06/14/12 - 03:42 pm
1
0
Irrelevant

Nomad907, Your experience might explain your motives, but it neither validates your position or excuses your demeaning invective toward those who have posted a different opinion.

Obfuscate
235
Points
Obfuscate 06/14/12 - 03:57 pm
0
0
Apples to Oranges

@907nomad - Your situation is not similiar. You are not comparing apples to apples. If you do not see the difference, then you continue to completely miss the point I have tried to make.

radiokenai
562
Points
radiokenai 06/18/12 - 07:23 am
0
0
No Brainer....take responsibility Mr. Trooper
Unpublished

From what I read, the Trooper ASSUMED that because he had his lights and sirens on that he owns the road.

One thing people missed, is that Rod is a longtime professional driver. I am sure he was focused on all things around him. If a Trooper comes flying up on you at 70+ miles an hour and attempts a blow-by, chances are YOU TO wouldn't see him, not to mention vehicles these days are basically very soundproof. Heck, haven't you too had cops bearing down on you before you noticed them in your past? I know I sure have! We always breathe a sigh of relief when we pull over and they accelerate on by!

It is absurd that the investigation found Hamilton was not driving improperly. Trooper Hamilton should be ashamed at not taking irresponsibility for his unsafe driving. Just who caused the accident? Oh, I guess it was Rodney's fault for making a safe, left hand turn....give me a freaking break!

Just because you have your lights/sirens on, does not mean you own the road! (as you have learned).

In fact, as a TRAINED STATE TROOPER...Mr. Hamilton should have been well aware of the consequences of not driving defensively during a call-out!

It is what they ask from the Public!

Don't they train Troopers SAFE and RESPONSIBLE driving behaviors at the academy?

The Public expects PROFESSIONALISM from our State Troopers in regards to their driving. This incident is paralleled to the actions of something we would expect from a drunk driver!

Let it go to court and let the people decide!

And take a little ownership in your mistakes Trooper Hamilton (after all, isn't it what you expect from the public?)

Back to Top

Spotted

Please Note: You may have disabled JavaScript and/or CSS. Although this news content will be accessible, certain functionality is unavailable.

Skip to News

« back

next »

  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321268/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321253/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321248/
  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321243/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321208/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/320593/
  • title http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321173/ http://spotted.peninsulaclarion.com/galleries/321163/
My Gallery

CONTACT US

  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS