Law expert says Friday’s crash on Delmar that killed four people could have been avoided

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 10:10 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The driver who caused Friday’s deadly crash is still on the run. Monday, St. Louis City’s Public Safety Director confirmed city officers used spike strips to try and stop the Jeep Cherokee, but still aren’t calling the incident a “police chase.” Now, a law expert telling News 4 what went right and what went wrong that night.

It was a chaotic scene Friday at the intersection of Delmar and Pendleton in North City. Just after 9 p.m., a Jeep Cherokee hit a Kia Sedona going nearly 100mph, killing four family members and injuring three more.

“The full investigation is still being completed,” Dan Isom said.

Isom, the city’s Public Safety Director, said the Jeep was evading police when the crash happened and that officers deployed spike strips attempting to stop the Jeep.

“It is a technique used by police to stop a vehicle that they don’t want to move,” Matt Vigil explained.

Vigil’s an attorney and St. Louis University Law Adjunct Professor. He said the crash shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Especially, he said, with a car flying down Delmar at an incredibly high speed.

“I always ask juries, you know, to use reason and common sense to infer what possibly happened. So, at some point, there was some sort of police contact to cause the driver of the vehicle to flee,” Vigil said.

Vigil said there are multiple approaches officers can take to avoid a chase, specifically, in residential areas like Delmar and Pendleton where the crash happened.

“There are devices that you can shoot and they tag GPS, there are covert ways to monitor vehicles, there are unmarked police cars,” Vigil explained.

News 4 still doesn’t know why the Jeep tried to get away from police in the first place. However, Vigil said anytime police are trying to stop suspects with felony warrants it can be difficult.

“What’s more important? Is it the protect and serve part of being a police officer or is it capturing the bad guy part of being a police officer? You can still catch the bad guy tomorrow and avoid killing four people and ruining a family,” Vigil said.

Vigil said there are some pursuit policies in place that put officers in a tough position, having to make split-second decisions. We’ve requested SLMPD’s chase and pursuit policy and are waiting to hear back. For now, the driver of the Jeep is still at large and the investigation is ongoing.