Two weekends, two officers killed in off-duty accidents

Accident investigators gather on Roosevelt Boulevard in Oxford Circle after a hit-and-run accident claimed the life of an off-duty Philadelphia Police Officer who was riding his motorcycle. (Joseph Kaczmarek / for the Inquirer and Daily News)

FOR THE SECOND consecutive weekend, the Philadelphia Police Department lost one of its officers in an off-duty traffic accident on city streets.

Officer Lamar Poole was killed yesterday when his motorcycle collided with a driver who pulled out in front of him in Northeast Philadelphia.

Poole, 42, a 19-year veteran, was pronounced dead about 5 p.m., about an hour after the accident.

Captain John Wilczynski, of the Accident Investigation Division, said at a news conference last night that the alleged hit-and-run driver - a 58-year-old man who has not yet been charged - might have gotten away if not for a vigilant tow-truck driver who followed his Toyota Corolla and called police.

"He really helped big time," Wilczynski said of the tow-truck driver.

The driver, who may have been intoxicated, pulled out in front of Poole on Devereaux Avenue at Roosevelt Boulevard. Poole slammed into the side of the car and was thrown from his 2005 Honda motorcycle. The heavily damaged motorcycle sat in the middle of the taped off accident scene late yesterday afternoon.

"We see this kind of accident often, unfortunately," Wilczynski said.

Poole was not wearing a helmet; they are not required for motorcyclists in Pennsylvania. Wilczynski said he died from head trauma and internal injuries.

Police are still investigating to determine if the driver was intoxicated.

"He did exhibit some signs of DUI, but one thing is for sure, he did leave the scene of the accident," Wilczynski said.

Poole was an officer in the 12 District, headquartered 65th Street and Woodland Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia.

The driver of the Corolla got out of the car, then got back in and fled the scene at about 50 mph, witnesses told police.

"He stayed real briefly, then took off," Wilczynski said.

About 7:30 last night, police began escorting Poole's body down Interstate 95 from the hospital to the city Medical Examiner's Office in University City, NBC10 reported.

Poole's death follows that of Sgt. Rafael Ali, 32, of East Oak Lane, who was killed the prior weekend in Roxborough while off-duty.

Police say the 10-year veteran lost control of his 2007 Dodge Ram pickup truck at 11:43 p.m. Saturday on Henry Avenue near Valley and struck a tree.

Excessive speed contributed to the crash, but investigators do not believe that Ali had been drinking. No skid marks were found at the scene, indicating that Ali did not apply his brakes.

"They're both tragic," Wilczynski said. "They're different kinds of crashes but, nonetheless, to lose two in one week is a little tough."

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