COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio police officer whose cruiser slammed into a stopped car in the middle of an intersection tried to veer away but couldn’t avoid the crash that killed six members of a family, and there is no basis to charge him, authorities announced Thursday.
Investigators concluded that the other driver entered a Columbus-area intersection despite a red light and was struck on the side by an Upper Arlington police cruiser that was responding to a middle-of-the-night robbery call with its lights and sirens activated. The Oct. 18 crash killed the driver, his wife and four of their daughters, and the police officer was seriously hurt.
“It was a dreadful accident, and given the actions of the other driver, it was unavoidable,” Perry Township police Chief Robert Oppenheimer said in a statement Thursday.
There were no signs that the second driver, Eid Badi Shahad, was impaired. Exactly why he ran the red light or stopped in the intersection is likely to remain a mystery.
A Columbus police accident expert who was asked to investigate concluded the car had adequate braking equipment but may not have been able to stop short of the intersection because of other factors, such as speed. The analyst’s report noted that Shahad may have been fatigued or distracted, and that while his driver’s license required corrective lenses, it’s not clear whether he was wearing glasses.
In his statement, the officer, Shawn Paynter, said he saw the car travel into the intersection and he tried to swerve.
“I had attempted to steer behind the rear of the vehicle, but the vehicle stopped unexpectedly in the intersection directly in front of my cruiser and I had no time to avoid a collision,” his statement said.
Based on dash-cam video and the investigation, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien determined charges weren’t merited.
Police identified those killed as Shahad, 39; Entisar W. Hameed, 31; Shuaa Badi, 16; Amna Badi, 14; Ekbal Badi, 12; and Lina Badi, 2.
None of them wore a seatbelt, and the youngest daughter was not in a child restraint.
The family were refugees from Basra, Iraq, who came to the United States about three years ago, people close to the family said. They had been out making visits as part of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Shahad’s mother and his four sons were home at the time of the accident.