Friday, December 03, 1999

Witness: Officer was asleep at the wheel

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Off-duty Cincinnati police Officer Donald Scalf was nodding at the wheel and swerving in and out of lanes minutes before he struck and killed a jogger Nov. 25 in Columbia Township, a witness told the Hamilton County Sheriff's office.

        Officer Scalf, a rookie, faces an involuntary manslaughter charge. The 25-year-old District 3 officer has been removed from street duty, and is working a desk job, a supervisor said. There was no indication alcohol was involved, according to the sheriff's office.

        In a statement, which is a part of the investigating officer's crash report, witness Dawn Hillman said she was stopped at a traffic light on Wooster Pike and Newton Road when she noticed Officer Scalf's car, left of her, about one foot in her lane.

        “I looked at the man and noticed he was nodding off. His head was down, his eyes were shut,” Ms. Hillman wrote. “I moved up to the intersection a foot or so and looked at the man. He started up and advanced as well.”

        Ms. Hillman said that when the light turned green, she drove off and observed Officer Scalf's car from her rearview mirror.

        “He immediately began swerving. I accelerated. He was also accelerating and swerving the whole time,” wrote Ms. Hillman, who recalled she was driving about 60 mph at the time.

        “Then the man (Officer Scalf) took a few more big swerves, followed by crashing from the center lane into (a) guardrail, hitting a jogger,” she wrote.

        Officer Scalf, who has been on the force since January, was on his way home from work when the accident occurred. He was released from the Hamilton County Justice Center Nov. 25.

        Lloyd Swaringer, 45, of Wooster Pike, had been jogging east on Wooster Pike about 8:10 a.m. when Officer Scalf's 1994 Toyota Camry swerved onto the sidewalk and hit him from behind, the sheriff's office said. Mr. Swaringer was pronounced dead at University Hospital.

        Spokesman Steve Barnett said the report will be sent to the prosecutor's office for a possible indictment.


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