FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

Tenn. Trooper Ignored Crash

Tennessee Trooper Van Morgan has been terminated for deliberately ignoring a fatal crash by a driver he had pursued.

February 06, 2012

Comments (15)

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15

Jim @ 2/6/2012 6:15 PM

I do not understand what he was doing or why. He never did actually chase this individual as the subject crashed before he even caught up to him. Why would he just drive by and call his wife and a FOP attorney before even going back to the crash? Yes he may have been able to tell the subject was dead close up but that he would not know until he was on the vehicle. The reporter cut off before she could say anything about a previous fatal crash so I have no idea what or if that scared him or what was going through his mind. It certainly was not his fault the kid crashed or was driving that fast. Chances are there wasn't anything he could have done to save the kid but we will never know now. It certainly does not look like how you should do your job though but again, I was not there.

Leonard Mather @ 2/6/2012 6:24 PM

After a chase such as the one shown, I would suggest that all police officers follow the same procedure, i.e., take your time, let the law of logical and natural consequences occur (such as, bursting in flame, dying from loss of blood, etc.). It was the Perp not the officer who made the FIRST mistake. True, Van Morgan talked too much. He should have acted remorseful, not referred to "show for the media," and gotten to the scene a bit faster. The firing after Van Morgan's mistakes is understandable. I hope he gets the best lawyer to fight the 10 Mil. If I were on the jury, the family would get $1.00 and a recommendation to speak to HS students on why drinking (if he had BAC reading indicating it) and driving to excessive speeds are ill advised and emphasizing that lawsuits for 10 Mil will get you $1.00. That is the Law of Logical and Natural Consequences. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY!

Gary Wilson @ 2/6/2012 6:48 PM

Based only on the video (I wasn't there either, but....)
The issue isn't a pursuit- there didn't appear to be one.
The issue is fail to stop and render aid- a criminal offense in my state, anyway. Probably in most other states also.
Speeding 79/40 when they met each other.... fleeing? Not yet, anyway.
Reason for speeding? No one knows... who hasn't during a perceived emergency or when he/she is just driving stupid?
Reason for crash? Maybe speed, youth, drinking... no one knows.
Pass on by?
Not hardly.... and 'Natural Consequences' ain't cuttin' it... if that is your attitude and you are an officer, find another job. You aren't needed.

JSL @ 2/7/2012 5:02 AM

Why didn't the officer STOP is the million dollar question...or in this case 10 million? Why did he drive past the wreck if for no other basic reason than to possibly effect the arrest or render medical aid? There's obviously more going on with this trooper than we all know.

William Simpkins @ 2/7/2012 5:26 AM

That is the most deplorable thing you can do as a police officer. Not only should he have lost his job, but I hope he looses everything he owns.

Dan Birdsley @ 2/7/2012 6:22 AM

To Leonard Mather: I pray you are not a cop. If you are, you need to find a new career. That attitude is reprehensible, asinine and on some level, immoral!! That attitude is almost as bad as the Trooper's behavior.

John Staley @ 2/7/2012 6:56 AM

Adrenaline. The trooper may not have seen the vehicle wreck. Tunnel vision occurs and he was looking way ahead for a speeding vehicle not in ditch. I agree he should have noticed the vehicle, however he was trying to catch up to a speeding car. It could have been the fact that this has happened before and he was shaken. People get a little gunshy if you are over criticized. Let those with all of the information figure this out. Pray that all those involved learn a lesson. The kid shouldnt have been speeding and the trooper did not cause this accident. If you are a police officer, trooper, or deputy, you already know he has lost everything. The law suit is the family's way of blaming someone else for there sons mistake. Sorry for their loss, but the trooper shouldnt be finacialy liable for the young mans choice to speed.

Pup @ 2/7/2012 10:18 AM

What is it the family is suing for? If the coroner decides the suspect died upon impact, case over. If not, then make the attorneys rich. Remember, who started the pursuit. Were the actions of the trooper improper after the TC? Ask him? There could be many reasons why he didn't stop. Only the trooper can justify his actions. The main question is, if teh Trooper had stopped after the suspect crash, would it have made a difference? Monday morning quarterbacking is the easy part. Making the split second decision is the difficult part. As for keeping his mouth shut, I agree. The Trooper should have kept quiet from making unwarranted remarks. Our (LE) mouths are our greatest enemy.

RetMarE7 @ 2/7/2012 10:10 PM

Hey William SIMPLETON... What is your profession? Certainly not that of Police Officer. What do you take from that video that explains your Monday Morning Quarterbacking? I have seen officers involved in very complex and ultimately tragic circumstances resulting in someone's death that at first, even on video, appeared to be handled poorly. After a thorough and professional investigation, by PROFESSIONAL POLICE OFFICERS, the case was found to have been handled well and perfectly correctly/legally. It is rare that one can make a snap judgment based upon a few seconds of video. Even a camera does not tell the whole story. But then, being the professional you are (not) you should already know that.

William Simpkins @ 2/8/2012 6:24 AM

RetMarE7, first, my name is spelled SIMPKINS, and I spent 34 years in law enforcement, and I take great offense to the name calling. I was also an instructor in officer survival, defensive tactics, and ASP baton training. What I found wrong with what this officer did, was continuing by the accident, not even trying at that point to save a life. The officer must have known he screwed up, because he was more concerned with getting a lawyer, before even going back to the crash site. If you are or were in law enforcement, I sure would not want you looking after my back.
You should read the article again, he was terminated for ignoring a fatal crash.

Paula Clark @ 2/8/2012 3:37 PM

What a poor excuse for a member of law enforcement! He very definately deserved being booted off the force for this dereliction of me, his action (or "inaction" in this case), is comparable to a member of our armed forces going AWOL in the midst of a battle! It shows a total lack of respect for the job he was sworn to do as a police officer, and there is no excuse for it...EVER!!!

ERNIE @ 2/22/2012 1:39 PM

Give me a break he seen the accident, just like he seen the last on where the girl was found the next day! Who care what the kid was doing wrong we as police officers took an oath to protect and serve. I have been in Law Enforcement for 20 years and have never seen this typ of neglect of duty. This clown should not be fighting for his job back, in my state he would be fighting for his freedom!!!! He should be put in jail!!!! God bless the Tenn. State Police as they have to live with this embarrassment, that he brought on this department!!

Chief Anderson @ 2/23/2012 4:18 PM

Run the dash cam video at normal speed, no slowing it down at the accident. The trooper is negotiating a curve at high speed with his headlights and top lights the only illumination, there was no fire at that time. If you blink, you miss the accident. I don't know what the trooper saw or didn't see on the first drive by at high speed, all I'm saying is that the media running the dash cam at slow speed is not a fair characterization of the actual circumstance. Secondly, wait til the autopsy result to determine when death occurred. Head on into a tree at high speed is usually instantly fatal. Even if the trooper did stop, with that amount of damage, there would have been no way to extricate that driver, if he survived the crash. The trooper must have been through this before, that would be an explanation as to why he called his lawyer. That accident might have happened anyway, what if the trooper just kept going the other way and didn't even throw on the lights? Why do we always need scape goats in this society for the tragedies of life.

woody @ 2/26/2012 10:33 AM

There is an article that has much more information than is presented here.
Seems that the trooper slowed from 70 mph to 20 mph at the scene of the crash, so he definitely saw the car. He claims he thought it was a parked car. To me, a car parked up against a tree on the side of the road is either a crash, or a the driver hoping you wont see him and drive on by. Either wa, it deserves investigation. Later when he heard word of the crash come over the radio, he turned the car around and headed back to the scene before ever hearing the location of the crash. Telling ... at least to me. Based on what I've read, he acted improperly, and should be disciplined if not demoted. As for the lawsuit, no way! An autopsy found that the driver died on impact.

Peter J. Santos @ 2/15/2016 10:34 PM

I know this officer , He violated my constitutional right , when I had a stroke behind the wheel of my car. I asked to be taken to the hospital he refused toke to jail no phone calls this but me the hospital for 3 years I can no longer work .I almost died . under federal law there is no statue of limitation for the violation of your constitutional rights

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Videos

Police Magazine