A McLoud police officer who jumped into the median of Interstate 40 to avoid being hit by a vehicle that slammed into his patrol car early Thursday morning was back on duty Thursday night following an accident that could have ended much differently.
The overnight incidents that unfolded on I-40 near SH 102 ended with one man jailed on a driving under the influence of alcohol complaint, a missing Texas man from a Silver Alert reunited with his family and a McLoud police officer thankful for his life and to his comrades for their assistance.
“It was an unreal experience,” McLoud Police Officer Trevour Story said.
Story said it was about 12:05 a.m. Thursday when information was received about a vehicle traveling the wrong direction in the wrong lanes of the interstate.
There was some initial confusion on whether the vehicle was going westbound or eastbound and on which side, Story said, but officers from multiple agencies worked to find and shut down the vehicle.
It turned out the vehicle was going westbound in the eastbound lanes west of Shawnee, he said, with him responding from the SH 102 exit.
Story set up a road block at the 178 eastbound exit to get eastbound traffic off the highway as other units got the vehicle stopped going the wrong way on I-40 under the SH 102 overpass, where there was a heavy police presence.
Officers realized the situation involved a man with some type of medical issue, Story said, which turned out to be a missing man sought as part of a Silver Alert from Grand Prairie, Texas. There were several officers out of their patrol vehicles and on foot in that area of I-40, he said, so traffic needed to be diverted off the highway briefly to avoid traffic under the overpass area.
With his patrol car facing the southeast and its overhead police lights flashing, Story blocked off both eastbound lanes of I-40. In uniform and also wearing a reflecting vest and with a flashlight, Story began directing eastbound traffic off the interstate exit.
Traffic was exiting, but there were some close calls.
At some point, there was a Toyota Tundra pickup heading his way and it didn't appear to be slowing down at all, he said.
“I began walking back toward the bumper,” he said, and spotlighted the approaching vehicle hood again, with no effect.
“I just remember running toward the median,” Story said, “and making a not-so-graceful jump.”
While running, he said he felt like one leg was jumping and the other lunging, while also spinning.
After he passed the rumble strips alongside the highway and jumped, he hoped he was far enough off the road.
He didn't see what happened next, but he definitely heard the crash.
“I didn't see him hit the car...but I heard it...felt it,” he said.
Estimating the driver of the pickup was going 60 to 70 miles per hour, Story said the impact on the front passenger side of his unit flipped the police car to where it was facing another direction.
“He never braked,” Story said, about the driver, adding that after the impact, he notified dispatch and then saw a man running from the crash site.
“I saw him running across the interstate going southbound,” the officer said, as he yelled at the man to stop.
Nearby McLoud officer Austin Overturff ran to the scene along with Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Deputy William Wheeler, Story said.
Story got to the suspect first and took him into custody. He said the man smelled of alcohol.
That driver, identified as Robert Jasper, 48, of Oklahoma City, was checked at the scene by REACT EMS and then was taken by a deputy, along with Officer Story, to St. Anthony Hospital to be checked out.
Jasper was medically cleared for jail and then booked into the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center on complaints of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident involving damage, jail records show. Formal charges have not been filed.
Story, who said Jasper allegedly admitted he had been drinking, apologized to him at the hospital.
And while the events did end in the crash and the total loss of a patrol car, Story said they were lucky to have no injuries and that the missing Texas man was found and returned safely home.
Along with being thankful for his own safety, Officer Story, who joined the McLoud Police Department in November, also is thankful other plans for that night didn't go as initially planned.
“My wife was supposed to ride-along with me last night...thankfully she didn't,” he said.
Story also felt fortunate to have comrades there wit him, including Deputy Wheeler. Ironically, Deputy Wheeler was among the officers on the scene a few years back when OHP Trooper Nicholas Dees was struck by a motorist and killed along I-40 east of Shawnee.
Story first heard Wheeler's account of what happened that night when he was in the reserve academy and Wheeler was a guest speaker at the academy..
As officers know working along the roadways, especially highways, can be dangerous, Story said his fellow law enforcement officers — and especially Wheeler — went out of their way to make sure he was OK, for which he is grateful.
Story said his patrol car, which now sits totaled at Brown and Sons Towing and Recovery in Shawnee, was not equipped with any type of dash camera.
And while he was wearing a body camera, it was not activated at the time of the accident since he was doing traffic control.
In a way, though, Story is glad not to have to relive what happened.
Numerous agencies were involved in the overnight incidents, including Shawnee police and fire departments, Pottawatomie County Sheriff's deputies, McLoud police, Absentee Shawnee and Kickapoo tribal police, as well as REACT EMS and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, he said.
Although he's been at McLoud a short time, Story said he worked with Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal police before that, so he already knows many area officers well.
Jasper remained jailed Thursday night on a $10,000 bond. Case reports will be turned over to the district attorney's office for consideration of any formal charges.
Watch for updates.