Shortly after 3 a.m. on June 26th, sheriff’s deputy Jeffrey Bates was travelling Southbound on North Federal Highway when he collided with a woman who was crossing the road on foot. The Sun Sentinel reports that the woman, who remains unidentified, had just left Broward Health Imperial Point Hospital after being treated for chest pains. She was accompanied by her boyfriend, John Adams, who was just a few feet in front of her when she was hit. Adams told the Sun Sentinel, “I heard the hit and then I see her flying in the air, and she landed on her head. She wasn’t breathing. I tried to help her. I tried to give her CPR, bring her back to life.”
The Miami Herald reports that the mother of five and grandmother of seven was hit just feet from Broward Health Imperial Point Hospital. However, due to her serious injuries, emergency medical technicians decided to take her to the trauma center at Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach several miles away. She was pronounced dead at around 3:30 a.m.
Adams told reporters that Bates did not have his emergency sirens or lights on, and that the officer was speeding. The posted speed limit on that section of North Federal Highway is 45 miles per hour. An investigation is currently being conducted into whether speed, weather, or other factors played a role in the fatal accident.
General Rule: Police Officers Must Follow the Law
If Bates was not on his way to an emergency call, he was required to obey the traffic laws like everyone else. Police officers are generally required to follow all posted traffic laws. An exception is made, however, if an officer is on the way to an emergency call. The fact that Bates’ sirens and emergency lights were not on does not necessarily mean that he was not responding to an emergency call. Officers are not required to turn their lights and sirens on when responding to calls, although it is generally recommended that they do.
Bates, currently serving his eleventh year with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, has previously been involved in another accident while on patrol. According to the Sun Sentinel, in 2009 Bates entered an intersection with his emergency lights and sirens on and was hit by an SUV. The SUV then collided into another car; drivers and passengers in all three vehicles sustained minor injuries. The accident was later determined to be preventable.
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