Connecticut officer dies from injuries weeks after motorcycle crash caused by suspected drunk driver

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SOUTH WINDSOR, CT – A 25-year-old South Windsor Police officer passed away earlier in July from injuries sustained weeks earlier in a motorcycle crash that police say was caused by a suspected drunk driver.

South Windsor Police Officer Ben Lovett passed away on July 13th while he was at Hartford Hospital. Officials say that Officer Lovett sadly succumbed to injuries he sustained in a motorcycle crash that happened on June 26th while the officer was off-duty.

The June 26th crash happened at approximately 1:15 a.m. on the corner of Hunter and Crystal Lake Roads, where authorities say 24-year-old Spencer Kraus allegedly ran through a stop sign and struck the motorcycle that Officer Lovett was on.

A passenger who was on Officer Lovett’s motorcycle at the time, identified as 39-year-old Jennifer Marie Sokolik, was also injured in the crash. Her condition is not clear as of this writing, but she was reported as being also taken to Hartford Hospital following the crash.

Police officials say that Kraus was administered a field sobriety test following the crash, which the suspect failed.

Following the June crash, Kraus was charged with operating under the influence, evading responsibility in a serious physical injury, second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, and failure to obey a stop sign.

Tolland State’s Attorney Matthew Gedansky stated on July 14th that, in light of Officer Lovett’s death, Kraus will be facing upgraded charges in the case and is scheduled to appear in court in the coming week regarding the officer’s passing.

A statement from the South Windsor Police Department noted that Officer Lovett was hired by the department in April of 2018 and showed promise immediately after completing his training at the Connecticut Police Academy in September of that same year:

“During the training and evaluation period, Officer Lovett demonstrated himself to be proactive, effective and a valuable team player. He was assigned as a patrol officer in the Operations Division where he excelled and grew as a new officer.”

During his time with the South Windsor Police Department, Officer Lovett had worked with the Criminal Investigations Bureau and the East Central Narcotics Task Force, where the department highlighted that his time with the task force proved that he was “a valuable asset to the team and continued to grow in his abilities.”

The South Windsor Police Department also shared the fallen officer’s numerous accolades and certifications he attained during his three years with the department:

“Officer Lovett has received numerous letters of appreciation from the public, he is the recipient of the 2020 Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognition award, he served as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) within our department, a certified Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) member, and he held numerous investigation and narcotic training certificates.”

In a statement following Officer Lovett’s passing shared by the Wethersfield Police Department, the department expressed the frustration of the young officer losing his life from a “preventable” tragedy of impaired driving:

“As fellow police officers we grieve for Ben and are frustrated because this tragedy was entirely preventable. There is no excuse for drunk/drugged driving. This senseless act ruined the lives of countless people and took the life of a beloved son, brother, and police officer.”

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Back in June, we at Law Enforcement Today reported on another officer that was killed while off-duty that authorities say was struck by a driver while trying to help others involved in a separate crash. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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SEATTLE, WA – An off-duty Seattle Police officer was reportedly killed during the early morning hours of June 13th while assisting on the site of a multi-vehicle crash on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5.

Officials say that the officer was struck by a vehicle involved in a subsequent crash.

The slain officer has been identified as 38-year-old Officer Alexandra Brenneman Harris.

According to the Washington State Patrol, there was a multi-vehicle crash that occurred slightly before midnight near the Spokane Street on-ramp on the Interstate 5 South.

Reports indicate that as many as 10 vehicles were involved in the crash, causing severe backups along the interstate.

Calls then came in about a subsequent multi-vehicle crash that occurred at approximately 1:18 a.m. near Columbian along the backup caused by the first crash. Officer Harris had reportedly just finished up her shift and stopped to assist those involved in second the crash.

Officials say that after Officer Harris had stopped to render assistance, a yet-to-be named driver struck the officer, with the officer sadly died at the scene. Officials say that the driver who struck the officer remained at the scene and is cooperating with authorities.

However, a then-unknown suspect at the scene where Officer Harris was killed had stolen the officer’s personal vehicle. Police later found the fallen officer’s vehicle abandoned during the morning of June 13th.

On June 17th, investigators with Washington State Patrol said they arrested the suspect believed to have stolen Officer Harris’ vehicle

Washington State Patrol identified the suspect as 49-year-old Roger Lee Owens Jr. of Seattle, who was arrested after being found at a motel in the Eastgate area of Bellevue at 9:22 p.m. on June 17th. 

Owens was later charged with felony hit-and-run, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen firearm and identity theft.

It’s unclear as of this writing whether any criminal charges are being considered regarding the driver that allegedly struck Officer Harris, as the Washington State Patrol are still investigating the matter.

Brandi Kruse, host of the Q13 Fox program “The Divide with Brandi Kruse,” took to Twitter to share some of the kind words spoken by current and former Seattle Police officers regarding Officer Harris:

“She was a real life Wonder Woman,” said a former SPD officer who left the agency last year. “(She) exemplified what it meant to be a well-respected, driven, self-motivated, hard working, squared away human being.

“I was truly in awe of her motivation, dedication and ability to excel at damn near everything she did. As one of the very few female cops that I looked up to and aspired to be like, she naturally outperformed many of her male counterparts…

“…and was exactly who you’d want by your side and as your backup. It’s no surprise to hear that (she) selflessly put the safety of others before her own, but it is tragic and heartbreaking to know that she lost her life doing just that.

“(Her) death is a particularly tough loss that will be felt by so many people who she positively impacted. (She) lived a tremendously meaningful life and will be sorely missed.”

Officer Harris served with the Seattle Police Department for five years before her passing.

This is a ongoing investigation. 

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further insight into this developing case. 

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Back in June, we at Law Enforcement Today reported on a Buffalo Police officer that was seriously injured during a vehicular pursuit when a light pole fell on top of the officer’s cruiser. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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BUFFALO, NY – A 29-year-old Buffalo Police officer is in serious but stable condition after a light pole fell on to the officer’s police cruiser on June 3rd during a pursuit.

Officials say that the injured officer had suffered severe head trauma from the incident.

Officials have identified the injured officer as Officer Jonathan Negron.

The incident that led to the officer’s injuries started after BPD officers were responding to a call on June 3rd at approximately 12:58 p.m. about a white vehicle with four suspects inside on Crossman Avenue near Genesee Street, where one occupant was reportedly armed inside the car.

Officer Negron had reportedly tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver had instead led the officer on a pursuit. The pursued vehicle had wound up going off road into the Mount Calvary cemetery, where upon exiting the cemetery, the vehicle hit a light pole when crossing Harlem Road.

The pole allegedly struck by the vehicle being pursued wound up crashing through Officer Negron’s driver side window, knocking the officer unconscious.

Additional officers responding to the scene of the incident transported Officer Negron to ECMC in a squad car, where the officer was later admitted to the hospital’s Trauma Intensive Care Unit.

The four suspects inside of the vehicle being pursued were reportedly apprehended, but authorities have not identified the suspects by name as of this writing.

However, the driver of the vehicle was said to be a 16-year-old male from Rochester, which he has been charged with assault on a peace officer, and unlawful fleeing of a police officer. 

The juvenile could be facing up to 15 years in prison if convicted. 

The 16-year-old suspect is slated for a felony hearing on June 8th in Family Court.

Police have not levied any charges against the three other passengers inside of the vehicle during the June 3rd pursuit. Said passengers were only identified as two 18-year-olds and one 15-year-old. 

Officials say that the weapon allegedly in possession of the suspects which spawned the pursuit has not been recovered, but police are continuing to search the area where the pursuit occurred. 

Buffalo Police’s Accident Investigation Unit worked on the reconstruction of the scene of the accident, while the Homicide Unit are reportedly taking the lead into the criminal investigation regarding the four suspects arrested.

Officer Negron has been placed into a medically induced coma, which his condition has been updated to serious but stable.

Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans said Officer Negron has been with the BPD for two years, adding that he is the father of an infant son and has a fiancée. 

This is an ongoing investigation.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further insight into this developing case.

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