Richmond officer sent to hospital after mid-morning crash

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond police officer is rushed to the hospital after his car collides with an SUV.

It happened around 10:30 Sunday morning at the intersection of North 1st Street and East Grace in downtown Richmond.

At this point, no charges have been filed.

We spoke to the driver of the SUV who says he just didn't see the red light.

He and his family are from out of town and aren't used to the set-up of certain traffic signals downtown.

The driver of an SUV tells us he was going south on 1st Street when he blew through a red light.

He says he was looking up for a traffic signal and didn't see the red light.

At the same time, an off-duty Richmond cop was driving down Grace Street.

"We heard a loud bang and some broken glass and then some commotion outside," said passer-by Ryan Carr.

You'll see these kinds of non-overhanging lights throughout Richmond.

They're between 15 and 20 feet tall and positioned on the sides of the road, instead of hanging in the middle of an intersection.

Complicating things even more, we noticed one of the red lights isn't working.

Neighbors in the area tell us this isn't the first accident at this intersection and they're now questioning its safety.

"It's very scary. Very scary," said Malaika Al-Amin who has lived near the intersection for four years. "What was going through my mind was: why does this keep happening at this particular intersection repeatedly."

Police were unable to provide immediate statistics on how many accidents have occurred in this intersection and what caused the crashes.

"I have trouble seeing the lights myself, even just crossing the streets," said Carr. "I kind of look up to the middle of the street, and there's not a light there so it's pretty difficult to see if you're just driving or walking."

While they investigate whether or not speed or these traffic lights are a factor in the crash, police are hoping drivers will follow this advice.

"Never assume anything," said Lt. Robert Marland. "You should always look before you enter the intersection because you never know what the other driver may be doing, what they see or don't see."

Residents are asking the city to look into whether the placement and coordination of these lights are safe.

Officers on scene told us the traffic engineering division would have to determine whether those signals contributed to the crash.

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