A Cayce police officer has been disciplined and fined $600 by an internal city accident review board in a bizarre December crash involving two city police cars.
It is the only time Cayce police cars have smashed into each other in his nearly 10 years on the force, said Cayce Public Safety Chief Charley McNair.
Although Officer Ernest Keith Darlak, 25, was going to a break-in in progress, he should have been more careful when he ran a stop sign, said McNair
"Our policy lets officers disregard certain traffic laws while responding to certain critical incidents - such as an officer down, responding to a burglary or a domestic case involving a weapon," said McNair.
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"But still, the policy says that even though it's an emergency, the officer must make sure he is not endangering anyone to the point of causing injury or property damage."
McNair declined to specify the disciplinary action against Darlak but said it was "severe."
Darlak - who cooperated fully in the investigation - also was to take various pursuit driving and defensive driving courses, the chief said.
On Dec. 23, Darlak and Officer Darwin Weaver, 39, were en route to urgent calls. Darlak was going to a break-in, and Weaver was answering a call to assist another officer handling a potentially unruly DUI suspect.
Shortly before 10 p.m., Darlak - going about 45 mph - ran a stop sign going south on K Avenue and collided with Weaver's car, going west on 9th Street about 31 mph.
Weaver's car ricocheted into a nearby house, poking a hole in it. Darlak's car hit a rock wall.
The S.C. Highway Patrol, which often investigates crashes involving police cars, did not issue any tickets in the case.
"They were both responding to service calls," said Sid Gaulden, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Public Safety.
The DPS oversees the S.C. Highway Patrol, which investigated the incident.
Neither officer was seriously injured in the crash. More than $3,000 worth of damage was done to each car, and more than $2,000 worth of damage was done to the house.
"We were in the wrong," said McNair.