Police car smashes into restaurant


The car of a Seymour policeman on the way to a call wound up in the dining room of a Wendy’s restaurant after he swerved to avoid a car that pulled in front of him, police report.

No one was injured Monday in the incident involving Officer Mathew Carver, who was running without his lights and sirens activated because it was not an emergency run, Assistant Police Chief Craig Hayes said.

Even though it was a nonemergency run, police still don’t want to take too long to get there, Hayes said, “because you don’t really know what you have.”

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The incident Carver was responding to was initially reported as disorderly conduct and involved janitors at the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center at 1000 S. Poplar St. They were reporting someone was attempting to block them as they were trying to leave the school, Hayes said.

He said the janitors thought the people might be parents angry about something that had happened to their child at the school.

That call was resolved after the people trying to block the janitors in called police and said they were attempting to stop people, who turned out to be the janitors, at the school who were up to no good, Hayes said. It was sorted out after officers talked to everyone involved.

Carver, 25, of Paris Crossing, and his passenger, Thomas Chamberlain, 22, of Martinsville, were both taken to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour after Carver’s car went into the dining room of the Wendy’s restaurant. Chamberlain is a student at Olivet Nazarene University and is serving an internship with the police department.

Hayes said both were checked out at the hospital after the wreck, reported at 11:10 p.m. Monday.

The 2010 Crown Victoria that Carver was driving was destroyed. The restaurant at 1101 E. Tipton St. suffered heavy damage.

The incident began as Carver, who joined the force in November 2011, was on a run to the school, Hayes said. Carver was driving west on Tipton when a vehicle in front of him slowed to turn into Busy Bee Liquors just east of Wendy’s.

At the same time, Meagon Burton, 21, pulled out of a driveway between the businesses, intending to cross the westbound lanes and head east on Tipton, Hayes said.

Burton told police she saw the vehicle slowing to turn into the liquor store and didn’t see Carver’s police car before pulling out in the 2004 Ford Explorer, Hayes said.

“She stopped,” Hayes said. “If she had kept going, he (Carver) might have been able to miss her.”

Hayes said Carver saw Burton’s vehicle and made a split-second decision to drive to the right to avoid hitting Burton’s vehicle or entering the eastbound lanes of Tipton Street.

The police car missed Burton’s vehicle, left the road, hit a culvert and crashed into the restaurant. Hitting the culvert apparently damaged the steering and brakes of the police car, making it less drivable, Hayes said.

Police called a local contractor to secure the restaurant for the night, and the drive-thru opened Tuesday.

General manager Jerika McClanahan said a crew was working at the time of the incident, but no one was in the dining room and no one was hurt.

McClanahan said there is no timeline for when the dining room might reopen.

There were several people in Burton’s vehicle, but no one was hurt, Hayes said. She stayed at the scene.

Carver’s supervisor Monday night, Sgt. John Watson, is investigating the incident.

Hayes said police are trying to determine if Carver was driving in the inside lane or changing lanes to go around the turning vehicle when the wreck occurred. They’re also trying to determine how fast Carver was driving, Hayes said.

The investigation may take several days to complete and no one has been cited, Hayes said.

He said Seymour Police Department has an accident investigation team, and Watson is a member of that team.

Hayes said had there been injuries, an outside agency would have been called to investigate.

He said Carver was tested for alcohol and drugs, which is routine when an officer is involved in a wreck, and the results were negative.

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