An Essex police officer was ticketed for failing to stop at a stop sign moments before hitting a bicyclist in front of the police station three years ago, newly obtained documents show.
A police report from the Colchester Police Department, which investigated the crash, says Cpl. Edward Piro’s cruiser dash cam footage shows the officer failed to completely stop at the intersection of Maple Street and Rivendell Drive right before striking former resident Colin Dees on April 7, 2016.
Dees, who now lives in Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit against the town, EPD and Piro because the town continues to deny responsibility for his injuries, which include “severe chronic pain” and emotional distress that have negatively impacted his “lifestyle and personal relationships,” the suit says.
Essex police Chief Rick Garey confirmed the department was notified of the lawsuit but he declined to comment until the case is completed.
The police report lists Piro’s insurance as Vermont League of City and Towns property and casualty insurance. The report also includes written statements from both men.
Piro wrote that he was heading back to the station around 6 p.m. that evening to type up some reports. He says he “slowed gradually” to a stop at the stop sign and started to cross Maple Street toward the station entrance when he suddenly realized a bicyclist was in his path.
“I struck [Dees] with the front of the car about dead center, knocking him down into the driveway entrance and knocking the front wheel off the bicycle,” Piro’s written statement reads. He goes on to say he believes Dees was hidden from his view by the right windshield post and the vehicle’s camera system.
Dees says he was riding with traffic along the road’s shoulder on his way home from work. He was wearing a black jacket, black pants and a black hat with fluorescent yellow socks and shoes at the time of the crash. He rode a white Look 585 Origin bicycle equipped with front and rear flashing lights.
The report says Piro was driving under the posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour. It adds that his cruiser windshield was “partially steamed up,” and Dees could not be seen on the video until the crash occurred.
In his written statement, Dees describes being hit in a “T-bone fashion.”
“I went over the hood of the car, having been hit at a substantial rate from the left side,” he wrote. “I don’t remember hitting my face, in preservation mode, however, I have facial lacerations.”
Dees was taken to the EPD station lobby and treated by St. Michael’s Rescue for minor abrasions to his chin and left arm. He was unable to work for an extended period of time, the lawsuit says.
Piro, 61 at the time of the crash, accepted a buyout from EPD earlier this year and remains on the force part-time.
It doesn’t appear that EPD ever notified the public about the crash.
The department’s weekly media log from April 2016 shows EPD responded to an “accident” on Maple Street around the time of the crash. But The Reporter was unable to find any media reports detailing the incident, nor could it locate any press release on the town’s website mentioning the crash.
When The Reporter noted this to Chief Garey, he again declined to comment until the lawsuit has been resolved.