Lafayette teen on bike collides with police cruiser
A north Georgia teen riding a bike slammed into a police cruiser Tuesday.
The girl is in critical condition with several injuries. It happened in downtown Lafayette Tuesday night around 7 p.m.
The 16-year-old girl was riding a bike downhill on Simmons Street and as she approached the stop sign says the brakes on the borrowed bike she was riding wouldn't work. At that same time, a Lafayette Police cruiser was driving on Cherokee Street and they slammed into each other.
"She looked way worse than what they said," the bicyclist's mom, Mary Watson said.
31-year Department veteran Lt. Robert "Skipper" Dunn was driving on Cherokee Street. 16-year-old Onika "Nikki" Watson was riding down Simmons Street that same moment.
"She was with two friends and the boy let her ride his bike and that's what she was on and she said 'Momma, I tried to stop; I tried to stop, but I couldn't get the bike to stop,'" Mary Watson said.
She went through the stop sign and slammed into the police cruiser, rolling onto the hood and into the windshield. Spray marks on Cherokee show where parts of the bike and her items landed.
"Her shoes were at least 10-15 feet apart," Nikki's sister Amanda Flanary said.
"It really makes me mad because the speed limit down there where it happened is 25," Nikki's dad James Watson said.
Georgia State Patrol is investigating.
"They call us to kind of come have an objective eye and we'll look at all the parameters of what occurred," Georgia State Patrol Cpl. Andrew Gideon said.
The police chief says Lt. Dunn did not have his siren or lights on.
"He had just come off and call and maybe was going to back up somebody else on a call. He was shift commander, so he kind of moves from call to call but he wasn't running an emergency call," Lafayette Police Chief Bengie Clift said.
Per protocol, the Lafayette Police Department is doing an internal affairs investigation on Lt. Dunn, but he is not on leave.
"He was just visibly upset," Chief Clift said.
They say on the scene, Nikki kept apologizing for running the stop sign.
"She's so full of life and now she's blaming herself for this," Mary Watson said.
She's in the ICU at Erlanger. Her family says she's got a bruised brain, blood clot on her forehead, a leg fracture, required several stitches on her ankle and is bruised all over. She was not wearing a helmet. Her parents say they didn't even know she'd be riding a bike, since she left the house on foot.
"She said I'm super girl, I'll be okay," Mary Watson said.
The Georgia State Patrol says it will take a couple days to complete the investigation. They still have to interview the teen. Witnesses gave statements on the scene. They say at this point it looks like the teen was at fault since she had the stop sign, but Lafayette Police say they would not even considering pressing charges and are just hoping she recovers quickly. Their internal affairs investigation won't be complete until GSP's is.