Columbia police changed emergency response guidelines after an officer ran a red light at excessive speed with her seat belt off and died in a crash, Police Chief Skip Holbrook said Monday.
Officer Stacy Case, 37, was killed in the late-night collision with a University of South Carolina officer’s vehicle Nov. 7.
“She died a hero, responding to (a call for) help,” Holbrook said in outlining findings of the S.C. Highway Patrol investigation into the wreck.
New guidelines will require officers to come to a full stop at red lights before entering an intersection in any call for help.
Guidelines at the time of the crash allowed officers to go through red lights in certain situations as long as they slowed down and made sure the way was clear.
Holbrook expects the change will have a “negligible” impact in slowing response to such calls.
“Coming to that stop, the few seconds that causes, I don’t think it’s going to have any effect on our ability to provide service,” he said.
Case also violated standards by going more than 20 mph above the speed limit, Holbrook said.
She also was not “driving with due regard for the safety of all persons,” he said.
Case was traveling 64 mph west on College Street and USC Sgt. Allan Bolin was traveling 76 mph north on Park Street, Holbrook said. Bolin drove through a green light and Case ran a red light when the two collided in the intersection.
“Sgt. Bolin's actions did not violate the law or department policy, but clearly in light of this tragedy we will be reviewing our training,” USC spokesman Wes Hickman said.
Both officers were not wearing seat belts, according to Holbrook.
Columbia officers are required to wear seat belts while responding to emergencies.
Bolin struck Case’s vehicle in the front driver’s side, according to the Highway Patrol investigation. Both officers had lights and sirens on before the crash, Holbrook said.
“The collision was an accident – it was an unintentional event,” Holbrook said. “The only person that can tell us why they entered the intersection without it being clear is ultimately Stacy. She died in the line of duty answering an emergency call for service.”
Bolin remains hospitalized recovering from injuries, Hickman said.
USC and city police do not have a formal agreement but often assist each other in handling calls.
Case’s parents, who live in Michigan, attended a memorial service in Columbia for their daughter Nov. 10. Police retired Case’s unit number 115 at the end of the service.