Crashes put big dent in Bertram police fleet

STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY

Following back-to-back incidents in which motorists collided with Bertram police units, the entity’s fleet was cut in half leading to the recent emergency purchase of a patrol car from a neighboring department. Courtesy photo

Following back-to-back incidents in which motorists collided with Bertram police units, the entity’s fleet was cut in half leading to the recent emergency purchase of a patrol car from a neighboring department. Courtesy photo

BERTRAM — Authorities made an emergency purchase of a new police vehicle July 6 after back-to-back crashes in which motorists slammed into the agency’s patrol units, one of which resulted in a drunken driving arrest, according to the Bertram Police Department.

“It hurt our fleet, essentially cut it in half,” Bertram Police Chief J.J. Wilson said. “We went to Liberty Hill and purchased a Chevy Tahoe to build our fleet back up.”

In the two incidents in June, one officer sustained injuries and another was able to continue performing his duties.

The most recent incident — which resulted in the drunken driving arrest — happened at about 6:30 p.m. June 28 at the intersection of North Grange and Texas 29.

Bertram Police Officer James Brown was stopped in traffic in a 2014 Ford Explorer patrol unit, according to the report.

“The officer was at the intersection there, waiting at a red light,” Wilson said. “A vehicle came up behind him and rear-ended him at the traffic light.”

The report stated that 47-year-old Kimberly Stiles was driving a four-wheel drive pickup truck and attempted to avoid the collision.

Kimberly Kimbro Stiles faces a drunken driving charge in a June 28 collision with a stopped Bertram police car.

Kimberly Kimbro Stiles faces a drunken driving charge in a June 28 collision with a stopped Bertram police car.

“She slammed on her brakes, so she kind of slid into him,” he said. “It was about 15 miles per hour by the time she hit him.”

The officer exited the vehicle and conducted a preliminary investigation before the Texas Department of Public Safety arrived to handle the case.

“It caused a lot of damage to our car because she had the brush guard on the front of her car,” Wilson said. “The officer talked to her and interviewed her.

“He performed a field sobriety test,” the chief continued. “She failed. She admitted that she was drunk.”

Stiles was booked into the Burnet County Jail on June 27 on a 1,500 surety bond. She was released the following day.

The collision came on the heels of a crash involving another Bertram police unit just three days earlier on the same highway a mile away.

Officer James Threadgill, driving a 2014 Ford Explorer police unit, had stopped a compact car on the side of the road in the process of writing a citation just before 10 p.m. June 24 when the incident occurred.

A driver, believed to be in her 70s, was traveling in a van about 40-50 mph when she failed to yield to the police car, struck the back of the vehicle, and pushed it into the stopped car.

Threadgill suffered a head injury, bruised ribs, and injured knees. He was released from the hospital the following day but is currently recuperating and has yet to rejoin the force.

As a result of the two collisions, the Bertram police fleet dropped from four to two vehicles, shared among eight peace officers.

“The insurance will cover the damage in both incidents,” Wilson said. “We just had to double up some guys until we were able to get that vehicle.”

connie@thepicayune.com

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