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Three injured after St. Petersburg police cruiser, SUV collide

A St. Petersburg police cruiser was so badly damaged in an accident Monday afternoon that firefighters had to cut through the wreckage to reach the officers inside.

St. Petersburg Police Department

A St. Petersburg police cruiser was so badly damaged in an accident Monday afternoon that firefighters had to cut through the wreckage to reach the officers inside.

ST. PETERSBURG — A police cruiser pulled into the path of a small SUV on Monday afternoon, authorities said, causing a wreck that sent one civilian and two St. Petersburg officers to the hospital with minor injuries.

The crash occurred about 12:08 p.m. near Sixth Street S and 36th Avenue S, near the South Side Shopping Center, police said.

A St. Petersburg police report said that Officer Matthew Kirchgraber was headed east on 36th Avenue S in a fully-marked 2008 Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser. He stopped at a stop sign at Sixth Street, then pulled forward and attempted to turn left onto northbound Sixth Street, police said.

But police said the agency vehicle pulled into the path of a 2004 Mazda Tribute driven by Michael Jon Gowin. The front-end of the Mazda struck the driver's side of the police car, spinning it into a nearby wooden power pole.

Officers Kirchgraber, 22, and Bridget Voelker, 32, suffered minor injuries and had to be freed from the wreckage by firefighters. The Mazda's driver, Gowin, 33, also suffered minor injuries. All three were taken to Bayfront Medical Center, and all three were expected to be released late Monday.

The department's preliminary findings: the officer was at fault for failing to yield. The investigation will continue and the officer could be disciplined in the wreck. Traditionally officers involved in on-duty traffic infractions are disciplined by the department instead of being issued citations, said police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

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Three injured after St. Petersburg police cruiser, SUV collide 08/23/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 23, 2010 9:19pm]

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