UPDATE: Cleveland police officer killed in crash Sunday night - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Cleveland police officer killed in crash Sunday night

Posted: Updated:
Officer Justin Maples Officer Justin Maples

(WRCB)- The Cleveland Police Department is dealing with the loss of one of its officers. A Cleveland officer died in a single-car crash Sunday evening.

The accident happened just after 9:30 p.m. on South Lee Highway in Cleveland.

"When you come and you actually see the patrol car. It's so real. You know, you look at it and you're like, 'This really happened,'" says Cleveland Public Information Officer Evie West.

Thirty-five-year-old Cleveland Police Officer Justin Maples was on patrol duty Sunday night when his cruiser slammed into a telephone pole in front of the Holiday Motel off South Lee Highway. The force of the crash was so great it flung the car battery to the other side of the road.

"When the Lieutenant called me and let me know that he had been in a very serious car wreck, it kind of made me sick," says West.

West says Maples was a personal friend.

"His teammates were the first on the scene. One of his best friends, who was one of his teammates, actually was trying to extricate him out of the vehicle."

Maples was taken to Skyridge Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:21pm. Fellow officers gathered at the hospital.

"We had a crisis incident response team come and pray with us," says West.

She says they are still processing the loss.

"We have not lost an officer for many years, many years," she says, with the last Cleveland officer killed in 1955.

A SWAT team member and a seven year veteran of the force, West says Maples was devoted to his community.

"He's from, born and raised in Cleveland. His father works for Cleveland Utilities, his mother works at Cleveland State. So they're very active in our community. He has a wife and three small children all under the age of five years old. We're just really, really saddened by this," says West.

As investigators try to piece together what happened, she says all Cleveland Police officers, and Maple's family members, need prayer.

"It's going to take a long time for us to get through this," says West.

At this point, the cause of the crash is not known. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is in charge of the investigation.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this developing story.

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