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Witnesses: Florida patrol car that killed 2 had no lights, siren

What witnesses say they saw or heard in the hours after a traffic accident may conflict. Statements often change after several days or weeks have passed. A Pensacola plaintiff's personal injury case is based on evidence, including witness testimony that must be consistent to support a claim.

The people who were not involved in a recent mid-state car accident, but saw it happen, said a vehicle pulled out in front of a police car on Okeechobee's State Road 70. The officer driving was responding to a reported domestic dispute, when the patrol car struck a vehicle occupied by three young women.

Witnesses, except for the sheriff's deputy in a car behind his colleague, stated the patrol car was speeding down the road without emergency lights or sirens. Two of the women were ejected during the auto accident and died at the scene; the third woman was injured.

The deputy underwent surgeries and was listed in critical condition. He suffered fractures but is expected to survive. Investigators said the crash occurred so suddenly, the deputy was unable to use his brakes.

The women shared a late-night meal at a fast-food restaurant, where the mother of one of the women worked. The women's vehicle was struck as it entered the highway. The deputy in the second patrol car saw the accident, but made no public statements about the lights and sirens on his co-worker's vehicle.

Workers at the restaurant said it was not first time police officers were seen speeding or driving along the highway without activated headlights. The Florida Highway Patrol is conducting the investigation.

Witness statements can be based on facts and feelings when a relative, friend or co-worker is hurt or killed. Law enforcement and legal investigators must dig past emotions to find out what really happened. The statements help police determine whether criminal charges are warranted and independent investigators establish fault.

Source:, "Families Believe Deputy's Speed a Factor in Double Fatal Crash" Jana Eschbach, Dec. 02, 2013

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