GSP trooper, fired after fatal accident
Posted in the Blairsville Forum
#1 Jan 6, 2012
Atlanta News 12:57 p.m. Friday, January 6, 2012
Trooper involved in fatal crash fired
By Mike Morris
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Georgia State Patrol trooper involved in the New Year's Eve crash that killed the wife of Braves trainer Jeff Porter has been fired.
Are high-speed pursuits justified?
In a statement released Friday, Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety, said that while the investigation into Saturday's wreck in downtown Atlanta is continuing, Trooper 1st Class Donald Crozier was terminated on Thursday.
"Immediately following the crash, I requested the resources of the Georgia State Patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team, the department's Special Investigations Division, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fulton County District Attorney's office in the follow-up investigations," McDonough said.
"The investigations are continuing and the findings from each will be presented to [Fulton County] District Attorney Paul Howard for his consideration of charges when the investigations are concluded," he continued. "Although this personnel action has been taken, this will in no way change the focus of the investigations."
Kathy Porter was a passenger in the Ford Expedition being driven by her husband, Jeff. The Ford was struck by Crozier's Dodge Charger patrol car at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Memorial Drive. Kathy Porter died; her husband, the couple's son, David, and a third passenger were injured.
The Porters were on their way to the Chick-fil-A Bowl when the crash happened just after 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
The State Patrol said Crozier was speeding to assist in the chase of a motorcyclist on nearby I-20 when the wreck happened.
The State Patrol on Friday released the initial crash report on the wreck.
In the report, the investigating trooper says that, according to statements from Jeff Porter and from witnesses at the scene, Crozier "failed to use due regard when traveling through the intersection on a red traffic signal."
The report also states that, according to witnesses, Crozier, who was westbound on Memorial Drive, "traveled around other vehicles that were stopped on Memorial Drive for the red signal prior to making impact" with Porter's SUV, which was northbound on Capitol Avenue.
One witness told investigators that Crozier's vehicle "approached the intersection at a high rate of speed with its lights on" and "did not slow."
While the report state's that Crozier's vehicle had "all of its emergency equipment activated," witnesses have told the AJC that the trooper's blue lights were flashing, but that they heard no siren.
#2 Jan 11, 2012
ATLANTA - The Georgia State Patrol Trooper who was involved in a wreck that killed the wife of Atlanta Braves Trainer Jeff Porter had a history of car accidents in his ten year history.
Since he joined the State Patrol in 2002, Trooper Donald Crozier has been involved in TWENTY accidents in his patrol car, according to his personnel record.
Seven of those accidents were determined to be his fault and he was disciplined for them. Since 2008 he had been at fault in five accidents. Last year he had two accidents in two days. One on February 8, 2011 and one on February 10,2011. He was at fault in both accidents.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the most recent crash on New Years Eve when Kathy Porter was killed. According to witnesses at the scene Trooper Crozier "failed to use due regard when traveling through the intersection at Capitol Avenue and Memorial Drive on a red light."
Crozier was fired Friday. The State Patrol's Commissioner said in a written statement Friday.
"Earlier today, I terminated the employment of [Trooper First Class] Donald Crozier as a trooper in the Georgia State Patrol," Colonel Mark McDonough said in the statement.
"We extend our deepest condolences to the Porter family on their loss and they, along with Ms. Williams, remain in our thoughts and prayers," McDonough said.
The GBI and Fulton County District Attorney's office were investigating the Saturday crash that killed 54-year-old Kathy Porter.
The Georgia State Patrol initially reported Jeff Porter was behind the wheel of his Ford Expedition, when a state trooper crashed into the vehicle at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Capitol Avenue in downtown Atlanta.
Trooper First Class Donald Crozier, a 10-year veteran of the force, was traveling westbound on Memorial Drive with his lights and siren activated on his way to assist another trooper who was attempting to stop a motorcycle on I-20, according to the GSP.
The patrol car hit Porter's SUV on the passenger's side, pushing the vehicle into a utility pole.
Jeff Porter, his 19-year-old son David and 18-year-old Courtney Ann Williams were treated for injuries at Grady Memorial Hospital. They've all been released.
Crozier was also taken to Grady to be examined, according to the GSP. He was initially placed on administrative leave.
The crash was also investigated by the Georgia State Patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team.
Crozier issued a statement through attorney Michael Hawkins, Friday afternoon: "I am still suffering emotionally and physically as a result of the accident, but it is nothing compared to what the Porter family is going through. I am so sorry for their loss and I think of them and pray for them every day."
Crozier said he will continue to cooperate with investigators looking into the accident.
"I have known Donald for almost a decade, and he has always exhibited the finest qualities of a trooper with the Georgia State Patrol," said Hawkins. "He spent his life protecting the public on our roadways, and he is having a very difficult time knowing that the accident he was in resulted in the loss of life."
The Braves issued the following statement Saturday night: "The Braves family is deeply saddened and shocked to learn about the tragic accident today involving the family of Head Athletic Trainer Jeff Porter and the death of his wife Kathy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jeff and Kathy's family, their son David and all their friends and loved ones."
#3 Jan 11, 2012
State may not pay damages in wreck that killed wife of Braves trainer
Submitted by Paul Crawley, 11Alive Reporter
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012, 7:05pm
DAWSONVILLE, GA - "I was heartbroken," said Jan Venable of Dawsonville.
She contacted 11Alive News to express her condolences for the death of 54-year-old Kathy Porter.
The wife of Atlanta Braves trainer Jeff Porter died Saturday evening when their family's SUV was hit by a speeding Georgia State Patrol car near the State Capitol in downtown Atlanta.
Venable doesn't know the Porters, but she has a warning that even if the trooper is found at fault, the victim's family might not receive any compensation from the state.
"There's a lot of people that have no clue that this policy is with the Georgia State Patrol," Venable told us Tuesday afternoon.
What she's referring to is the Sovereign Immunity Law that can protect the state from having to pay any damages done by a law enforcement officer, even when at fault.
11Alive News did a story on Venable's daughter, Chrissy, in 2006 when her car was hit by a State Trooper doing a u-turn in the highway.
"He said the sun was in his eyes," Chrissy's mother recalled.
Her daughter wasn't hurt, but despite a flurry of formal complaints, the Venable family never got a penny for $3,000 damage to their car.
They still have the email from the Auto Liability Manager of the Department of Administrative Services saying it was due to "an application of the laws on immunity".
According to that email, "the Georgia Tort Claims Act provides in OCGA 50-21-24 that the state waives immunity with the following exceptions: losses resulting from civil disturbance, riot, insurrection, or rebellion, or the failure to provide, or the method of providing law enforcement, police, or fire protection."
"We believe the trooper was in such a situation when this loss occurred," the state wrote.
"I got in touch with everyone, state senators, everyone, and...nothing," said a still frustrated Venable.
Her family is just one of scores of examples where the State of Georgia uses the Sovereign Immunity Law to avoid paying damages, even when a law enforcement officer may be to blame.
Blame hasn't been determined yet in the State Patrol wreck that killed Kathy Porter last Saturday.
But her husband is getting prayers from Jan Venable.
"He's got to face what I faced; the only thing is that he lost his wife," she said.
#4 Mar 2, 2013
Posted: Wednesday, February 27th 2013 at 2:12pm
Ex-Ga. state trooper indicted in fatal 2011 crash
By The Associated Press
ex state trooper has been indicted for vehicular homicide and other charges in a crash that killed the wife of an Atlanta Braves trainer.
Fulton County District Attorney's Spokeswoman Yvette Jones says Donald Crozier was indicted Tuesday in the death of 54-year-old Kathy Porter. Porter, her husband Jeff, their son and a family friend were en route to the Chick-fil-A Bowl Dec. 31, 2011 when authorities say Crozier crashed into the SUV the Porters were in.
State patrol officials say Crozier was trying to assist another officer and was driving with his sirens and lights on at the time of the accident.
Jones says Crozier, a 10-year-veteran, is accused of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and violation of oath by a public officer.
It's unclear if Crozier has an attorney.
#5 Mar 3, 2013
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