A police officer was sent to a Milwaukee hospital in critical condition after being hit by a vehicle. The man blamed for the hit-and-run car accident is a teenager facing first-degree charges of reckless endangerment and injury. A conviction could send the 19-year-old to jail for a term that equals almost twice his age.

Police say the nearly fatal car accident occurred in the 1800 block of West Windlake Avenue. Two officers sitting in a parked patrol car observed a speeding vehicle driving down the wrong side of the road.

The car, identified later as a Chevrolet Malibu, hurtled over a curb and onto a sidewalk, forcing one of the officers to jump out of the squad car. The officer who remained in the car tried to throw the patrol car into reverse to get out of the way. The Malibu struck the passenger side of the police car and the officer standing nearby.

The force of the crash hurled the injured officer into the air. Froedtert Hospital officials say he sustained leg and facial fractures, lost several teeth and suffered a subdural hematoma, a form of traumatic brain injury. The accident victim is expected to undergo multiple corrective surgeries. The officer who had remained in the patrol car experienced neck and knee pain.

The Malibu took off after the crash, leaving behind debris that helped Milwaukee police locate the suspect. An affidavit reported that a witness saw the suspect drive a damaged Malibu into a south side garage, not long after the accident occurred.

The witness claims the Chevy driver said he had been drinking for several days and could not recall how the vehicle was damaged. The garage owner met and talked with the suspect the following day. The teenager allegedly told him he wanted to get rid of the car. The garage owner contacted authorities after hearing about the accident.

Investigators examined the garaged car and matched the damage to the debris from the accident. Blood, hair and tissue samples were also found on the windshield.

The suspect was arrested and jailed in Chicago. A conviction carries a maximum sentence of just over 37 years and a fine of $125,000.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “19-year-old man charged in hit-and-run that injured officer,” Gitte Laasby, Dec. 29, 2011