A Jamaica Beach Police Department Officer was seriously injured early Thursday morning after a man fleeing police crashed a truck into the officer’s police vehicle, the Galveston Police Department said.
Jamaica Beach Officer Kristin Ornelas was rushed to the University of Texas Medical Branch in critical condition following the crash, Jamaica Beach Police Department Chief Brad Heiman said. Ornelas’ medical condition was later deemed improved to stable, Heiman said.
The driver of the truck and two Galveston Police Department officers also suffered non-life threatening injuries in the crash, officials said.
The driver, John Perkins, 41, was charged with aggravated assault of a public servant and was held on $250,000 bond, according to the Galveston Police Department. Perkins was still being treated at the University of Texas Medical Branch on Thursday afternoon, police said. More charges against him are possible, police said.
The chase that led to the crash began in Lake Jackson in Brazoria County earlier in the evening, police said. The city is about 35 miles away from where the crash occurred.
Before the crash, Ornelas and a Galveston Police Department officer set up north of median line on FM 3005 in an attempt to stop the truck from entering the wrong lane of traffic as it was being pursued down the highway, Heiman said.
As the truck approached the vehicles, it hit the Galveston Police Department car and then made “catastrophic contact” with Ornelas’ vehicle, police said.
Ornales’ Ford Explorer was hit from behind by the fleeing Ford F-150, police said. The police truck was lifted into the air and sent crashing into another vehicle, police said. Ornales was in the drivers seat and was restrained during the crash, police said.
Ornales suffered nine broken ribs and a skull fracture in the crash, as well as numerous other injuries, Heiman said. She did not lose consciousness, he said.
The chase started after police in Lake Jackson attempted to stop a white Ford driving in the wrong direction on a city road and running a red light, according to the Lake Jackson Police Department.
The truck refused to stop, police said
After the chase began, a woman called police from inside the truck and told them that the driver was intoxicated and threatening to hurt her and himself, police said. The woman was able to get out of the truck somewhere before it reached Galveston, police said. She was not injured during the incident, police said.
The chase continued to the coast and then turned north up the Blue Water Highway, the road that connects Galveston and Brazoria County at the San Luis Pass. Around 12:30 a.m., the Lake Jackson Police Department contacted the Galveston Police Department, asking for help stopping the truck, according to the Galveston Police Department.
The truck was clocked by radar as going more than 100 mph while it was on FM 3005, Heiman said.
The chase ended near Jamaica Beach’s eastern limits, before the entrance to Galveston Island State Park, where FM 3005 is starts to be split by a grass median.
The Lake Jackson police officers did continue the chase into Galveston city limits but slowed down once they saw other lights from other police departments, said Lake Jackson Police Department spokesman Sgt. Carey Lankford.
Galveston Police Department officers did not participate in the chase, Galveston Police Department spokesman Sgt. Xavier Hancock said. At the time the crash occurred, the police department did not have officers west of the crash site.
Police officials said that choices to continue high-speed pursuits can be based on any number of factors, including speed, weather conditions and the activity that caused officers to begin a chase in the first place.
Given reports that the truck driver had threatened to harm other people, Heiman said he believed the Lake Jackson Police Department was justified in continuing their pursuit
“I really believe it was a great decision,” Heiman said.
Ornales has been a full-time officer in the small Jamaica Beach Police Department for more than two years, Heiman said. Last year, she was named the department’s officer of the year, he said. A Dickinson resident, she is also married to a Dickinson Police Department officer.
The Jamaica Beach Police Department was working on setting up a fund in Ornales’ name to help benefit her recovery, Heiman said.
Police are still investigating the crash, and Perkins could face more charges from other jurisdictions, officials said.