MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee police officer was hit by a car while on duty, and remains in critical condition at Froedtert Hospital as of Tuesday. Now, police are searching for the driver responsible. FOX6's Henry Rosoff was with the Milwaukee Police Department as the call for help rang out on Christmas night.
37-year-old Milwaukee police officer Frank Vrtochnick, who was struck by the car Sunday night, was taken to Froedtert Hospital where remains in critical condition. Officials say the officer suffered severe leg damage after the incident that occurred just after 5:00 p.m. near 17th and Windlake. Police say a vehicle driving toward the officer's marked squad car on the wrong side of the road, jumped the curb and struck the uniformed officer who was attempting to get out of the way. Police say the officer has five years of service with MPD. Vrtochnick is also a former U.S. Army Ranger.
FOX6's Henry Rosoff rode along with Milwaukee police officer Michael Dix and John Ivy as they patrolled high-crime areas on Christmas night. This Sunday night, however, the holiday quickly became the least of their concerns, after an officer was struck by a car, and police had to guide the ambulance across town to Froedtert Hospital.
At the scene, a woman hysterically told police what she knows, and then, FOX6's Rosoff was in one of six police cars blocking roads for a medical unit carrying the critically injured officer. Officer Dix sealed off a street, and Ivy helped him spot cars. The ambulance buzzed by, and then the squad car sprinted in front of the ambulance and did it all over again. The squad car hit speeds of 60 to 70 miles-per-hour, double most Milwaukee speed limits.
Once the squad car hit the highway, they hit speeds upwards of 100 miles-per-hour, until finally, they reached Froedtert Hospital. There, police did in 10 minutes what normally takes a half hour in traffic. The officers said the police escort to the hospital was necessary due to the officer's injuries.
After escorting the ambulance to Froedtert Hospital, it was back on the streets for Dix and Ivy. They were ordered to help hunt down the driver who hit their fellow officer, even though their minds may be back at the hospital.
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said in a statement Sunday night that they're seeking the help of the public in finding the driver responsible in this incident. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer and his family at this difficult time, and we are appealing to the public to give us any information about this vehicle," Flynn said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett spoke out Monday, asking for the public's help in locating the driver responsible for Sunday night's incident. "If citizens would come forward and help us apprehend this individual who was driving the wrong side of the road on Christmas evening, that would be really good, because an officer put his life on the line for us. What we can do for him is help apprehend this driver," Mayor Barrett said.
Tuesday, a member of the Milwaukee Police Officer Support Team, who also taught Vrtochnick at the Police Academy spoke out. "We, as a community, owe it not just to him, but all of our fellow officers to do whatever we can to help provide support to the family, and try and apprehend the suspect involved in this," Lt. James MacGills said.
Police are looking for a dark-colored sedan that may be mising a passenger side mirror and have front end damage. If you have any information, you're asked to call police at 414-935-7360.