Deputy recovering from injuries
Polk County Enterprise, April 2007
LIVINGSTON -- Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy Phillip Waller remains in Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston with a fractured femur he suffered in a collision during a high-speed pursuit on Highway 146 and Garner Street in Livingston shortly before 5 p.m. March 27, according to sheriff’s department officials.
Funeral services were held Friday for Michael Wayne Gaston, 45, Livingston, who died from injuries suffered in the crash.
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace David Johnson ordered an autopsy but preliminary results were not available as of Friday.
The Texas Rangers and the Highway Patrol have not yet completed their investigation into the fatal accident.
Tuesday’s incident began when a caller reported a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck traveling north in the southbound lanes of Highway 146, reports show.
Deputy Patrick Marek attempted to stop the truck but it continued to travel north in the southbound lanes and sometimes on the southbound shoulder, according to a statement by Sheriff Kenneth Hammack released Wednesday.
Marek pulled his patrol car in front of the believing Gaston was going to pull over. Marek’s patrol car was rammed twice during the pursuit.
Deputies Anthony Ray “Andy” Lowrie and Howard Smith were stopped in the southbound lane preparing to deploy spikes when the fleeing pickup sideswiped their patrol car and collided head-on with the patrol pickup Waller was driving.
At the time of the crash, Waller had stopped in the southbound lanes to assist the other officers.
Gaston was pronounced dead at Memorial Medical Center -- Livingston and Waller was flown to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston and underwent surgery Wednesday.
Marek, Smith and Lowrie suffered bruises and abrasions and were treated and released from the emergency room in Livingston. All three returned to duty Wednesday.
Immediately after the collision, Capt. Rickie Childers said evening shift deputies were called in to relieve the two injured deputies assigned to day-shift patrol. Lowrie and Smith are normally assigned to the investigation unit.
Deputies have not been advised how long Waller will remain in the hospital, Childers said.
Two of the county-owned patrol vehicles were totaled in the incident, according to Childers. The third unit is repairable.
Until the fleet is restored to full force, patrol vehicles are being shared among deputies, Childers said.
Get-well greetings can be sent to Waller by completing an online form at www.memorialhermann.org.