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CHP Officer, Ojai Man Hurt in Crash

April 03, 1998|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

A rookie California Highway Patrol officer and an Ojai man were injured in a two-car collision on California 33 when the officer lost control of his patrol car while speeding to a crime scene near Ventura, authorities said Thursday.

CHP Officer Mark Choate, 25, and Gary Dowden, 61, were taken to Ojai Valley Community Hospital after Wednesday's 9 p.m. crash, said Officer Dave Cockrill.

Choate, who has been on the force for 18 months, suffered scrapes and a small cut on his head. He was recovering at his Ventura home Thursday. Dowden's injuries were described as minor and he was released from the hospital.

The collision, which occurred south of Encino Drive near Oak View, destroyed both cars, Cockrill said.

Choate was speeding south on California 33 to help another officer who was chasing a suspect who had fled on foot from a traffic stop near Ventura. That suspect was later arrested for being an unlicensed driver.

Choate's car was in a curve on the two-lane highway traveling an estimated 60 mph in a 45-mph zone when the driver lost control and veered into oncoming traffic, Cockrill said.

"It appeared that the officer was at fault even though he was running with his lights and sirens. He was coming into the curve too fast and lost control," Cockrill said.

A four-person review team is investigating the crash and will present CHP Capt. Dave Kissinger with its findings within a week, Cockrill said.

Kissinger may consider a number of responses, including placing a note in Choate's permanent record, ordering him to attend counseling, or mandatory days off work. Cockrill said termination would not occur. He also said Choate would return to work Monday.

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