Truck driver who hit patrol car charged

Friday, July 25, 2003

LEXINGTON, MO. -- The driver of a truck that hit a Missouri State Highway Patrol car and killed a state trooper has been charged with four misdemeanor counts in Lafayette County Circuit Court.

Paul A. Daniel, 30, of New Hampton, is charged with failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, failing to operate a motor vehicle in a single lane, no valid commercial driver's license and careless and imprudent driving.

He was driving a truck pulling a trailer May 22 on eastbound Interstate 70 near Odessa when he drove onto the shoulder and struck a patrol car driven by 25-year-old trooper Michael Newton, who had pulled over an Overland Park, Kan., driver.

Daniel told police he didn't see Newton's patrol car on the side of the road just before 7 a.m. because of the sun.

The crash also injured the motorist Newton had pulled over, Michael Nolte, 48, of Overland Park, who was sitting in the passenger seat of Newton's vehicle. The patrol car caught fire after impact and Newton was trapped inside. Two motorists who had stopped after the crash pulled Nolte out of the burning car.

The crash raised questions about the safety of the Crown Victoria police car. Lawsuits by Newton's family and Nolte contend the location of the Crown Victoria's fuel tank was partly to blame for it catching fire.

If convicted on all charges, Daniel faces a maximum of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. His next court appearance is slated for Aug. 19.

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