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UPDATED: Fircrest man killed in crash with sheriff’s deputy identified

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Sep. 16, 2011 at 6:54 am with 18 Comments »
September 16, 2011 10:32 am

UPDATED as of 10:25 a.m.

The 61-year-old Fircrest man killed Thursday night after colliding with a University Place sheriff’s deputy has been identified as Dale Neel, the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office reported today.

Meanwhile, the deputy, who suffered minor injuries in the crash, was released overnight from the hospital, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said today.

The deputy and Neel collided on Emerson Street near 67th Avenue West in University Place about 7 p.m.

Neel had turned from a side street onto Emerson and immediately went into the center turn lane so he could make a left toward his home, Troyer said.

The deputy was responding to a request for back up and had activated his lights and sirens. He was driving in the center turn lane when he spotted Neel and steered to the right to avoid him.

Neel also veered to the right lane.

“Preliminarily, it looks like they both tried to avoid each other and went to the same spot,” Troyer said.

The deputy hit Neel, then went over an embankment and crashed into a ditch. Neel, who was wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Tacoma Police Department was investigating the crash. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department also will conduct an accident review, which is standard procedure when deputies are involved in crashes.

“It’s not an intentional use of force,” Troyer said. “It’s an accident.”

Leave a comment Comments → 18
  1. dster420 says:

    What a TRAGIC accident…I will pray for the Deputy, as he must be really feeling terrible, and of course, for Mr. Neels family…

  2. magnolia11 says:

    “Collided” is another word for Run Over! $5 says the officer was not in control of his vehicle because he was dinking with his on-board laptop while responding to the backup request. I wasn’t there but those scooters are 50cc engines with no power and little reason on a busy street to be reckless.

  3. There is an eye witness to the crash. He stated that the officer was speeding over hills. This means that the officer was flying blind when he came up over the top of the hill right before he hit Mr. Neel. The deputy might be “really feeling terrible,” as dster420 suggests, but he was grossly negligent, driving at a high rate of speed when he could not see what was in front of him over the hills as he raced through a residential area. I predict that the whitewashing will begin.

  4. dster420 says:

    I’m not EVEN trying to defend the deputy …Just saying, he must feel terrible KILLING an innocent bystander(or rider), I would like to think MOST folks would…

  5. LibertyBell says:

    “accident” a politically motivated statement, when your department is guilty.

    RCW 46.61.520
    Vehicular homicide — Penalty.

    (1) When the death of any person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury proximately caused by the driving of any vehicle by any person, the driver is guilty of vehicular homicide if the driver was operating a motor vehicle:

    (a) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502; or

    (b) In a reckless manner; or

    (c) With disregard for the safety of others.

    (2) Vehicular homicide is a class A felony punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW, except that, for a conviction under subsection (1)(a) of this section, an additional two years shall be added to the sentence for each prior offense as defined in RCW 46.61.5055.

  6. tomwa007 says:

    Police, like the military are taught that killing other human beings is all in the line of duty. Collateral damage is expected to protect the masses.

    You do not take on the job if you are not able to handle it.

  7. LibertyBell says:

    Lights and Sirens that’s if one actually attended a police academy?

    RCW 46.61.035
    Authorized emergency vehicles.

    (1) 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.

    (2) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may:

    (a) Park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of this chapter;

    (b) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;

    (c) Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he or she does not endanger life or property;

    (d) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.

    (3) The exemptions herein granted to an authorized emergency vehicle shall apply only when such vehicle is making use of visual signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.190, except that: (a) An authorized emergency vehicle operated as a police vehicle need not be equipped with or display a red light visible from in front of the vehicle; (b) authorized emergency vehicles shall use audible signals when necessary to warn others of the emergency nature of the situation but in no case shall they be required to use audible signals while parked or standing.

    (4) 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 or her reckless disregard for the safety of others.

  8. LibertyBell says:

    A state owned Vehicle, and the accident investigation team?

    Got to sweep this one under the rug, now don’t we.

  9. mbuck253 says:

    there is no blind spot here. this is a really long left hand turn lane at the beginning of emerson on the u.p. side. this did not happen on the orchard side. by what this article states, the man hit immediately got in the middle lane when it was still a left hand lane for oncoming traffic. sad story. But this is a really strange intersection and an irregularly long turn lane.

  10. johnnywombat says:

    A very traumatic and sad event, in any case. My thoughts are with everyone involved. RIP Mr. Neel.

  11. buddiage says:

    As an officer of the law you must be safe. I see to many officers running red lights at a high rate of speed. We must slow down and use caution at all times. I’m sorry to say, but this officer needs to be held accountable for his actions.

  12. On the face of it, as reported so far, 1) the moped operator pulled out onto Emerson from a side street into the path of the approaching patrol vehicle (failure to yield right-of-way at an intersection and/or to an emergency vehicle?) that had lights/siren in operation; 2) moped immediately went into the turn lane after pulling out after crossing over and through the right hand lane (failure to turn into the nearest lane first – the right hand one’ – before signalling and moving over to an adjacent lane, in this case the turn lane); the patrol car’s speed is not reported, but by department policy they are limited to 10 MPH over the posted speed limit responding to emergency calls; topographical visibility of each other is not an issue – it’s an inclined straight-away, but the distance from the ‘side street’ to the point of impact will determine how long the moped was actually visible to the officer.

    Bottom line: let’s wait for more details before pointing fingers.

  13. Gosh what’s that law you read about on signs on the freeway…..
    Move RIGHT_for lights and sirens.
    Mr. Troyer admitted Mr. Neel moved right as did his officer. Maybe his officer forget he was driving a speeding bullet and thought that moving right applied to him to when he heard his own siren. GEEZZZZZZZZZZ

    I feel for the family and will pray for them in this difficualt time.

  14. I drive that intersection (all four directions) almost daily. Let’s not be too hasty to assign blame until one personally knows the left turn variations. Terrible to say, but this just might be the red flag that gets drivers to slow down.

  15. Frankly123 says:

    I too drive this intersection daily, all ways. it has more limited visibility than most intersections and I would expect any emergency vehicle to SLOW to a greater degree than in other areas, almost akin to a four-way stop when it comes to an emergency vehicle.

    Does anyone know if Police/Fire etc. have identified specific intersections throughout their territory that may have greater visibility concerns and therefor require more caution? That seems like it would be part pursuit training.

  16. OldTimerDickB says:

    Let us not forget Dale Neel. He was a good friend of mine and we rode our scooters together several times. He was a careful rider and moved to the RIGHT as required as noted. The officer it seems moved to the left and they met head on. As to moped or scooters being on roadways… Mine is over 600cc and can keep up with or pass most traffic on freeways if needed. In the US it is called a “scooter” because it has an automatic transmision instead of clutch operated gear box. Anywhere else in the world it is what it is… A motorcycle. And Dale had and I have drivers licenses plus the additional training and testing required for the motorcycle endorsement required from WA DOL. We also both understood the risks of riding along with 4 wheeled vehicles that are not always looking out for us. Dale, my blessings to your family in their time of grief and ride proud till we meet again my friend.

  17. I recently heard about Dale’s passing. My heartfelt condolences to his family. I was privileged to briefly work with Dale and also observe the compassion he had for his patients. I realize it has been since last September but felt the need to honor him for the kind person he was.

  18. Patty mcewen says:

    It’s been a few years since dale was killed but I just found out 2 hrs ago my heart is sad I use to be dale heels barber he’s a loving wonderful man with a loving family I’m so sorry it’s hard to beleave

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