Miami-Dade Police officer, driver hospitalized after crash

NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Miami-Dade Police officer and a driver are recovering in the hospital a day after, officials said, their vehicles collided in Northwest Miami-Dade.

Fire rescue crews responded to the scene of the violent crash, near Northwest 87th Street and 18th Avenue, at around 10:30 a.m., Tuesday.

The Rev. Eric Readon, pastor at New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, said he saw the collision. “I saw the whole thing before it became a scene,” he said.

Witnesses said the law enforcer was in pursuit of another vehicle at the time of the accident.

But officials have not confirmed a chase took place, though they conceded the officer reported a motorist refused to pull over for a traffic stop. “We had a vehicle that was refusing to stop,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Jennifer Capote. “The officer advised the dispatcher, and there was no transmission after that.”

According to investigators, the civilian driver, later identified as 30-year-old Norbel Vargas, was heading south on Northwest 18th Avenue when he entered the intersection at 87th Street and was hit by the officer, who has been on the force for about a year.

“I happened to see a big impact, like cars just flew up in the air,” said witness Gigi Jolly.

Jolly described a high-speed chase where the driver being pursued by the officer got away. “I saw this car coming toward me running the stop signs,” said Jolly, “and I had to actually get over, because he was about this [close] to hitting me.”

“The cops spinned around and two guys from the garbage truck went and picked the police officer up out of his vehicle and into safety,” said Readon.

The cruiser sustained extensive damage. Almost the entire engine was destroyed, and the front windshield was shattered.

7News cameras captured the man in the other vehicle on the ground while paramedics treated him.

Paramedics transported the officer and Vargas to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where they are both listed in serious but stable condition.

Readon urged witnesses to come forward with information. “Someone needs to speak up and say something, ’cause today it’s this police officer and some other innocent person, but tomorrow it could be you,” he said.

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