Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Public safety

Brooksville police officer injured in rear-end crash

BROOKSVILLE — A Brooksville police officer was flown to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point on Tuesday morning after her patrol vehicle was struck from behind by a pickup truck. The six-vehicle chain-reaction collision sent three others to the hospital with minor injuries.

Officer Meredith Blackman was in stable condition Tuesday afternoon.

Police Chief George Turner said the crash happened about 8 a.m. on Broad Street near Main Street in downtown Brooksville.

Blackman's marked Ford Crown Victoria was stopped at a traffic signal behind four other vehicles in the eastbound lane of Broad when a Ford F-150 driven by Catlin Joseph Nichols, 25, slammed into the rear of the vehicle at about 40 mph. Authorities said he did not brake.

Nichols, who lives in the town of Hernando in Citrus County, had been working the night shift and fell asleep at the wheel, which caused the collision, according to Brooksville police. He was cited for careless driving.

Blackman's cruiser sustained heavy damage.

After being struck by the pickup, the police cruiser collided with a 1999 Nissan driven by Tisa Thomas, 29. Thomas' vehicle then slammed into a 2012 Ford driven by Lucille Chwalik, 51, which hit a 2011 Nissan operated by Dennis Thompson, 41. Thompson's vehicle then hit a 2010 Toyota driven by Victoria Conklin, 65.

Nichols, Thomas and Chwalik were all taken to Bayfront Health Brooksville, where they were treated and released.

Witness Stephanie Martin said the impact knocked Blackman unconscious for a short time, but she was alert by the time paramedics arrived. Turner said he spoke with Blackman at the scene and found her to be groggy, but responsive to questions. He didn't believe her injuries were life-threatening.

Blackman has been with the Brooksville Police Department for about a year, the chief said, and was on patrol duty at the time of the crash.

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

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