CRESTVIEW — The driver of a Honda van that allegedly made an illegal U-turn in P.J. Adams Parkway June 24 did more than cause a wreck that spoiled the days of people in two other vehicles. The accident also inconvenienced hundreds of drivers who use the busy road.
The wreck likewise inconvenienced hundreds of residents in surrounding neighborhoods as drivers sought alternate routes to and from State Road 85, resulting in busier than normal streets for several hours as the traffic scene was investigated.
Though it may not appear so to impatient drivers who are victims of another motorist's illegal vehicle operation, the Crestview Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies and first responders really do work as fast as possible to reopen a roadway after a wreck.
But accident scenes — especially those involving serious injury or death — must be investigated and documented thoroughly. Hastening a traffic investigation to reopen a road could result in important evidence being damaged, lost or overlooked.
"The reason we do these investigations is we must evaluate all the elements to reconstruct how the accident occurred," Cmdr. Andrew Schneider said.
If someone died because of a driver's bad judgement, that evidence could be needed to prosecute the driver who caused the accident, which could affect bringing the driver to justice and compensating the victim's family and other affected people.
"That's why we block the road for so long sometimes," Police Chief Tony Taylor said. "We don't want to inconvenience anyone one minute more than necessary, but someone may have lost their life and we need to know why and how the accident happened."
When possible the police department tries to notify local media of road closures and posts the information on Facebook so drivers can plan to take an alternate route. But if a driver is stuck in traffic while an accident scene is investigated, or is trying to find his or her way through an unfamiliar neighborhood due to a road closure, there's not much officers can do.
"Please be patient," Taylor said. "We want to get that road opened as fast as you do."