WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Report says Madison police officer’s move to avoid wreck led to fatal crash

Phyllis Pine, 92, died in the head-on crash on Saturday.

Posted: Jun 26, 2019 6:34 PM
Updated: Jun 27, 2019 8:21 AM

The WAAY 31 I-Team has uncovered new details about a crash likely caused by a Madison police officer, that killed an elderly woman.

Phyllis Pine, 92, died in the head-on crash on Saturday. Pine's daughter, who was driving, was badly injured, and so was the officer.

Phyllis Pine; Photo: https://www.berryhillfh.com/obituary/phyllis-pine

The report states the officer was trying to avoid rear-ending two stopped cars on Wall Triana Highway as one waited to turn left onto McCrary Road. The officer swerved into oncoming traffic and hit a car head-on.

Huntsville police say investigators reviewed video from the officer's car and believe he was at fault. That's all they'll say right now, as the crash is still under investigation.

The Madison County commissioner over the area, Phil Vandiver, shared information with WAAY 31 about a plan to make that intersection safer.

"There are 12,000 cars a day going up and down it. It's a serious road to travel. You need to be very careful when you're traveling that road. There are lots of places you can have accidents, but McCrary Road is one that continues to pop up," he said.

Plans include widening the shoulder and adding a dedicated turn lane for southbound drivers wanting to turn left onto McCrary Road.

One man, Mark Marshall, used to live in the area and said his son was involved in a crash at the intersection more than 5 years ago. He says any safety improvements are welcome.

"It's due-time and probably with all the growth we are experiencing in Madison County, it's time to widen all these roads," he said.

Marshall says he's traveled Wall Triana Highway for more than 15 years, and many people turn onto McCrary Road to avoid traffic on Highway 72.

"It's always been a shortcut. I've taken it before myself to try to save time," Marshall said.

Vandiver explained how it's a timesaver.

"You miss three or four lights down through there, and it probably speeds you up 3, 4, 5 minutes as you travel that way," Vandiver said.

Commissioner Vandiver said no date has been set to make the improvements, but once they're done, drivers will still need to use caution.

"Dedicating a southbound lane is very important, because you can have cars stacking up to turn left while cars continue to head south on Wall Triana. It's a tough intersection to get in and out of and just adding a turn lane isn't going to make it that much safer," he said.

Huntsville police say the Madison police officer is out of the hospital. The driver of the vehicle he hit is still in the hospital and has more surgery ahead. Phyllis Pine will be buried on Thursday.

The improvements to the road are expected to cost about $500,000. The Department of Transportation is picking up the majority of the tab.

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