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Investigation continues into crash involving Coraopolis police chief

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Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, 6:24 p.m.
 

Investigators are trying to determine whether the Coraopolis police chief was responding to a call with emergency lights flashing and the siren sounding when he ran a red light in an unmarked police car last week and collided with a vehicle in Moon.

Chief Alan DeRusso and the other motorist, identified as a 36-year-old woman who was on her way to work, remained hospitalized on Tuesday with injuries that investigators were told are serious but not life-threatening, Moon police Chief Leo P. McCarthy said.

Witnesses have given conflicting accounts of whether DeRusso had activated his emergency lights and siren before the crash occurred at 8:14 a.m. Thursday at the intersection of Route 51, known as University Boulevard, and Thorn Run Road, McCarthy said.

“That's one of on the points of contention, whether he was on his way to a call,” the chief said. “That's one of the pivotal parts in the case.”

Witnesses reported that DeRusso traveled through the steady red signal and struck the vehicle driven by the woman who had the green light, McCarthy said. After the automobiles collided, a third vehicle was struck, but no one was hurt.

The police vehicle and the one driven by the woman have been impounded. Investigators from the township police Special Investigations Unit downloaded data from the computer, known as a black box, in each vehicle, McCarthy said.

Investigators are laser mapping the crash scene and reconstructing the collision, he said.

Township investigators are being assisted by an Allegheny County police accident reconstruction specialist, McCarthy said.

“We have been in direct communication with the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office,” McCarthy said. “Once the investigation is complete, we shall present it to them for review.”

Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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