Hit-and-run injures police officer, disables cruiser

By AMANDA KIMBLE

Staff Writer

amanda.kimble@empiretribune.com

The city's new police chief is seeking the public's help in locating a suspect involved in a hit-and-run.

Less than 48 hours after taking the helm at the Stephenville Police Department, Chief Patrick Bridges is calling on citizens' assistance in locating the vehicle and identifying the motorist involved in the accident, which occurred early Wednesday morning.

Bridges said the accident sent one police officer to the hospital with minor injuries and disabled his patrol car.

According to the accident report, Sgt. Robbie Rudder, with the patrol division, was traveling eastbound in the 1100 block of Tarleton Street and had just entered the intersection of Tarleton and North Ollie Street when the accident occurred.

Bridges said Rudder had the right-of-way as he entered the intersection and was not to blame for the accident. He also said the cruiser was "struck on the back, right quarter by an unknown vehicle."

"(The motorist) took off (in the vehicle, from the scene) after momentarily stopping," Bridges said, adding that the cruiser was damaged to such an extent that Rudder was not able to pursue the vehicle.

Rudder reportedly sustained minor injuries and was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released.

But Bridges also said the police department is on the lookout for the vehicle, thanks to a vehicle description, provided by Rudder.

The vehicle is described as a 2000 or later model Jeep Wrangler, dark in color and possibly black, with a hard top, heavy front bumper, off-road lights mounted over the windshield and mud tires.

Evidence obtained from the police cruiser's video recorder confirmed Rudder's description of the vehicle, according to Bridges.

Bridges said failure to stop and render aid is a third-degree felony offense that carries a restriction on punishment. He said an individual convicted of such an offense faces up to one year of confinement in the county jail or up to five years in a penitentiary and also faces a possible fine of up to $5,000.

Bridges is urging anyone with information about the case to call the police department at 918-1200.

"If anyone knows the location or identity of the driver, we would really like to speak with them," Bridges said.

Finally, anyone with information on this or any other crime should contact Erath County Crime Stoppers at 254-965-CASH, where callers will not be asked to give their name and will remain anonymous. Callers can also submit their tips securely and anonymously online at http://www.stephenvillepolice.org/crime.html.