Officer's quick actions help prevent major mishap on town square

July 15, 2008
Tom R. Duggin

What appeared to be a routine traffic mishap on the Public Square, Tuesday morning, almost turned into a major disaster. However, quick action by Smithville Police Lieutenant Steven Leffew kept the incident from becoming much more serious than it was.

Chief Richard Jennings said it all started as a rather routine traffic accident on the north side of the Public Square, but ended up with Lieutenant Leffew stopping a runaway vehicle from possibly running into Regions Bank on the south side of the square. Chief Jennings said the original mishap occured when a tractor-trailer truck was stopped to apparently unload heavy construction equipment, which was being used to work on the former Lavelle Smith building on the north side of the square. 35-year-old Brad Driver of Smithville ran into the back of the trailer in his 2003 Mercury car. Driver was taken from the scene to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS for treatment.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Leffew had called for a wrecker to assist at the scene, but as the tractor-trailer driver was beginning to pull off, he started dragging the lodged vehicle. Leffew yelled for the truck driver to stop, and Driver's vehicle dislodged and began rolling downhill around the square. Leffew tried to stop the vehicle but the doors were locked since the vehicle contains a device that automatically locks the doors once the vehicle is in gear.

The Mercury struck an SUV-type vehicle parked at Cantrell's Jewelry and that vehicle then struck a parked Lincoln, which belonged to Imogene Cantrell. The Mercury continued on toward the south, heading straight toward Regions bank. Lieutenant Leffew got into his patrol car and pulled in front of the Mercury, causing him to absorb the hit, but his actions brought the vehicle to a halt before it reached the bank building.

"It (Driver's Mercury) would have hit the bank building," said Chief Jennings. "He (Leffew) did the right thing."

No other injuries were reported at the scene.

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