News 5 continues to investigate the crash that sent 8 people to the hospital.
The officer-involved accident happened in late October at the intersection of St. Stephens Road and the Old Citronelle Highway. According to the report, Officer Castleberry was driving a patrol car at a high rate of speed when he hit Emeriel Lafitte and her five children.
The posted speed limit in this area is 35 miles per hour and the report states that Officer Castleberry was traveling at 66 miles per hour at the time of the accident.
The injuries on both sides were severe. Two of Lafitte’s children had to undergo major surgeries and Officer’s Castleberry and Roberson still have not been able to return to work.
The report also reveals that the two officers were responding to a burglary call, but were not using the lights and sirens on the car. The City of Prichard told News 5 over the phone that this is standard protocol.
However, according to Alabama State Law, this is not standard procedure for law enforcement officials.
Here is the State Law:
(a) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, when responding to an emergency call or when in the pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law or when responding to but not upon returning from a fire alarm, may exercise the privileges set forth in this section, but subject to the conditions herein stated.
(b) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may:
- (1) Park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of this chapter;
- Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;
- Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he does not endanger life or property
- Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.
(c) The exemptions herein granted to an authorized emergency vehicle shall apply only when such vehicle is making use of an audible signal meeting the requirements of Section 32-5-213 and visual requirements of any laws of this state requiring visual signals on emergency vehicles.
(d) The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others
No charges were filed against Officer Castleberry. News 5 contacted the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the investigating agency, who told us this accident was still under investigation and any findings would be turned over to the District Attorney.
The City of Prichard has not made any official comments regarding the findings in the crash report.