MILWAUKEE -- An accident report released by the Wisconsin State Patrol on Tuesday, September 18th indicates inattentive driving was a contributing factor in the crash that killed Milwaukee County Sheriff's Deputy Sergio Aleman.
Aleman was killed in a July 31st crash on southbound Interstate 43 near downtown Milwaukee. His service vehicle rear-ended a flatbed tow truck — and Aleman died of his injuries a while later.
In the State Patrol report, the tow truck driver involved in the wreck told investigators his vehicle had slowed due to road construction on southbound I-43 near Winnebago St. He was concerned Aleman's vehicle wouldn't have enough time to slow and stop. The tow truck operator told investigators "he observed the sheriff's vehicle rapidly approaching via his rear-view mirror." He said "it did not look as though the deputy noticed traffic was nearly stopped until the very last moment, at which time the deputy braked and swerved to the right."
Aleman's truck struck the right rear of the tow truck, separated after impact, and rolled over to the median shoulder. It came to rest under the Winnebago Street overpass.
A witness statement in the State Patrol report confirms the tow truck operator's statement that traffic was stopped. The witness told investigators, "the traffic back-up was sudden and several vehicles had to brake hard." She also said there were nearly several other crashes prior to the crash between Aleman's truck and the tow truck.
A speed analysis done in the report says Aleman's truck was moving at a minimum of 48 miles an hour when it struck the tow truck. That information was extracted from the airbag control module inside Aleman's truck.
Aleman's iPhone was found at the scene, but investigators said in the report they were unable to get permission to look at cell phone records.
The report indicates there was no alcohol or illicit drugs found in Aleman's system, but Aleman was reportedly not wearing his seatbelt.
In the end, the report says, "The exact reason why Deputy Aleman was inattentive to the traffic slowing in front of him in the moments leading up to the crash may never be known. However, it is well documented and widely accepted that the job of a police officer, in addition to being mentally and physically challenging, is a complex divided attention occupation. The inherent job duties of a patrol officer require multitasking nearly every moment of their assigned shift. Therefore, it is likely that Deputy Aleman, in performing his assigned job duties, was engaged in multitasking complex job duties in addition to operating his assigned police cruiser."
FOX6 News spoke with the Dean of Criminal Justice at Waukesha County Technical College regarding the multitasking officers are required to do while on the job.
"The officer is constantly being given information. It's perpetual. It never stops. It's constantly scanning, monitoring the radio, the computer and then prioritizing the information. They're trained to process the information as it's coming in, while maintaining safe operation of their motor vehicle," Brian Dorow said.
Law enforcement officers -- especially Sheriff David Clarke constantly remind drivers to focus on the road. However, Dorow says officers learn multitasking skills during intense emergency vehicle operations classes.