Almost a week after being struck by a car while on duty, Smyrna police say Corporal Gene Crawford is in good spirits and isn’t expected to need more surgery.
Crawford, a Smyrna motorcycle officer and 29-year-veteran of the department, was heading northbound on South Cobb Drive near Ridge Road Tuesday, May 8 when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Jennifer Karen Cook, 21 of Chamblee, after she failed to yield when making a left turn. Cook fled the scene and Crawford radioed to dispatch that he’d been in an accident. The driver was ultimately apprehended by Smyrna police and charged with hit and run, serious injury by a vehicle and failure to yield to left turn.
Crawford sustained two broken ankles, a broken leg and a cracked hip in the accident. Officer Michael Smith, Smyrna Police Department’s public information officer, said Crawford was in good spirits after his surgery. Smith said it’s still too soon to know if he’ll be able to return to work.
“I certainly hope that Gene will be able to come back, but it’s way too early to make any judgments about whether he’ll be able to recover from his injuries before he reaches retirement age,” he said. “We’re not thinking about that we’re just thinking about his speedy recovery.”
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There’s been an outpouring of public support for Crawford since the accident. Mike Watson, Smyrna Public Safety Foundation chairman, said people can make donations to the foundation in Crawford’s name.
“I really see that as probably our primary mission to be there for them because they’re always there for us,” he said. “Secondarily to assist and providing them the equipment or other things that they need.”
Smyrna Public Safety Foundation provides assistance to Smyrna’s police officers and firefighters in times of need by collecting donations and through fundraising events like the Smyrna Heroes Gala andStanding Together Benevolent Motorcycle Ride and Raffle.
Past benefits have been held for Officer Jed Minyard, another Smyrna motorcycle officer who was injured in an on-duty accident in November 2010. Smith said Minyard has since returned to work, but still battles an infection in his leg.
“He’s come back for light duty, but he’s unable to do any police work,” he said. “He’s been doing administrative paperwork, light investigations, stuff that doesn’t require him to leave a desk. His infection has returned and he’s had to have another surgery a few weeks ago. It’s still an ongoing thing for him and the infection still seems to be a problem for him.”
Another event benefitting Smyrna Public Safety Foundation is this weekend’s 7th annual Smyrna Wine Stroll. Renee Rowe, owner of The Wine Cellars and the stroll’s organizer, said 100 percent of the net proceeds will benefit Smyrna Public Safety Foundation. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased online.
Watson said he thinks supporting the Smyrna Public Safety Foundation is one way to give thanks to men and women who have responded to an often thankless calling.
“There aren’t many people in our society who when you call them they come immediately without asking if you’ve got insurance or anything,” he said. “When you’re in trouble they come. Quite often they risk their lives to do that like Officer Crawford did. I think that we owe them every bit of respect and support we can give them. They don’t have an easy job, but it’s important for the safety and enjoyment of our community that they do what they do.”