AKRON, Ohio — An Akron motorcycle officer, who was seriously injured on Saturday by an alleged drunk driver who had her grandchild in the car, spoke publicly for the first time to discuss his injuries and urge the importance of safe motorcycle driving and the dangers of getting behind the wheel under the influence.
The memory of Saturday's crash at the intersection of South Portage Path and Bloomfield Avenue is blurry for Officer Jason McKeel, who only knew he was involved in a serious crash when he woke up at the hospital.
It wasn’t until others notified him what happened that he learned citizens stopped and came to his side at the crash.
“I appreciate that very much,” said McKeel about the citizens who stopped and called 911. "It’s those details you wish you could remember. Unfortunately, I don’t.”
McKeel suffered several broken bones, including a fractured middle finger and fractured ribs. Doctors estimate a 6 to 8-week recovery time for the broken bones to completely heal.
Looking at the pictures and with time to reflect, he said things could’ve ended a lot worse.
“It could’ve been worse, especially looking at the motorcycle, and I wasn’t doing any exuberant speeding, but if I was going faster, or if it was a different vehicle, who knows.”
As an experienced rider for the Akron Police Department, he is trained to maneuver his motorcycle in any hazard, so it was shocking to him when he saw pictures of his motorcycle lying on the ground. Most recently, he even underwent a two-week crash course.
“One of the first things I asked my sergeant was if I was able to stop and he said no," McKeel said. "Knowing I laid down the motorcycle, that concerned me and that’s why I wish I could remember more because it’s either, well, if I laid the bike down I knew I was going to hit the vehicle and I didn't have enough room to safely stop. That’s the last thing I remember."
The alleged drunk driver of the vehicle, Corrie Sharpe, 65, was driving a 2002 Toyota Sienna minivan with her 11-year-old granddaughter.
When McKeel was asked if he is bitter or has any resentment towards the driver, he said "no," but also mentioned the 11-year-old is the other victim of a poor choice.
"As an 11-year-old, you don’t have a choice who you get into the car with. That’s the sad part. So for her sake, I am glad it was me who hit her rather than a large pick-up truck or an SUV coming down or the speeding car I was trying to stop. The 11-year-old is really the unfortunate victim in this too because she doesn’t have a choice," said McKeel.
McKeel's wife, Dawn, said she doesn't live in fear and knows he will do his best to come home.
"You get that knock on the door. They told me right away he is fine. I try to remain calm. I don’t want to make the kids upset. I support his decision. I know he is safe. He has great training. He will make it through," she said. "My message is pick up the phone and call somebody. Pick up the phone and call. Just keep everyone safe."