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March 30, 2004

MANISTEE: Officer is at fault for 4-car crash

Record-Eagle staff writer

      MANISTEE - A city police officer is at fault for starting a four-vehicle crash along U.S. 31.
      A report submitted by state police Monday to the Manistee County prosecutor's office said city patrol officer Brian Cook committed a "hazardous action" when his police car struck a van that was shoved into two other vehicles Friday night.
      "(Cook) was found to be at fault in the accident," state police Sgt. John Hansen said Monday.
      The crash happened around 8:30 p.m. near the Jackson Street intersection, authorities said. A northbound vehicle driven by a Manistee woman was waiting to make a left turn from the state road. A pickup truck driven by a Hastings man was stopped behind the first car, followed by a van driven by a Muskegon woman. The van driver slowed for the other two vehicles but was struck from behind by Cook's patrol car.
      The van collided with the truck, which was shoved into the first vehicle, state police said.
      Hansen said that while accident investigators found Cook at fault, it's up to the county prosecutor's office to determine if a citation will be issued.
      "That decision is up to the prosecutor alone," Hansen said.
      A ticket would be issued by state police if authorized, he said.
      City police chief David Bachman was not available for comment Monday on any potential discipline facing Cook for the incident. An employee at the department said Cook had returned to work on Monday.
      The driver of the van, Linda McQueen of Muskegon, and a passenger were treated at West Shore Hospital for minor injuries, authorities said. Cook also was taken for medical treatment but was not seriously injured. The front two drivers were not injured.
      A court worker in Manistee said a typical citation for failing to stop within an assured clear distance causing an accident carries fines and costs of around $140.

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