Recordings Reveal Response to Crash that Knocked Officer Off I-83

By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

5:55 PM EDT, July 6, 2011

As her colleagues scramble to get to her side, Baltimore Police Officer Teresa Rigby utters one phrase over the police radio.

“This is 31!” she says. A dispatcher urges her to continue: “Go ahead!”

But that’s the first and last time Rigby speaks on the 20-minute recording of internal police communications. The recording was obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a Public Information Act request after the crash that propelled the officer off an Interstate 83 bridge on June 21.

That morning, the Northern District officer was standing on the northbound shoulder near the Pepsi sign when a Saab struck her patrol vehicle. The cruiser knocked her over a retaining wall and down 30 feet into the Pepsi plant parking lot below.

The investigation into the accident continues, said Agent Donny Moses, a Baltimore police spokesman. No one has been charged, and the names of the drivers involved have not been released at the request of police investigators and the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office.

Rigby left Maryland Shock Trauma Center less than a week later after several surgeries and was transferred to a rehabilitation unit, according to the city police union. “Mostly every bone on her left side was fractured,” Moses said. “The main thing at this point is she’s going to live, and she’s still young enough to recover and hopefully have a productive life.”

Rigby was working car 31 that day, according to police. She was waiting for a tow truck to attend to a disabled vehicle on I-83 when the Saab struck her patrol car.

A 911 call prompted the report of a “Signal 13,” or officer in distress, at 9:28 a.m. for a police officer involved in an accident, a citywide dispatcher states on the recording. Other officers responded that they were on their way.

The Northern District dispatcher then asks “Who’s down there? 31, are you down there?”

She continues: “I got 31 down there. 31?”

The dispatcher then tells the shift commander that the officer in distress may be Rigby. “It’s my 31, I believe,” she said.

A dispatcher then instructs the officers to check Union Avenue, because Rigby might have fallen from the bridge.

The voice of the Northern District dispatcher becomes increasingly shaky as she asks, “Did you find her? Did you find her? 33, did you find 31?”

The first officer to reach the scene — 33 — responds, “OK, someone’s over the bridge!”

“Is it 31?” the dispatcher asks.

That’s when Rigby responds: “This is 31.”

The officer on the scene directs another officer on Union to go through the gate of the Pepsi plant. “She’s laying down there.”

Other officers coordinated the arrival and departure of ambulances to Rigby and the other drivers, blocking off roads to ensure a clear path onto Interstate 83 and to the trauma unit with an escort by the city police helicopter.

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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