Police Chief Defends Officer's Actions In Fatal Pursuit

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Monday, March 14, 2011

A Harper teenager is being remembered as a "good guy" who made a bad decision early Saturday. That decision ultimately ended tragically when 19 year-old Cole Augustyn died after crashing his A-T-V on the south side of town.

"When you think of Cole, he was a goofy guy with a little smile. He was always a good guy," said Ashley Mitchell, who knew Augustyn for several years.

A Harper Police officer witnessed several all terrain vehicles racing on city streets just before 1:00 AM Saturday. As she tried to pull one over, the A-T-V's bolted and she gave chase to the one that Augustyn was driving.

"He went down a county road that everybody calls Whiskey Road," said Harper Police Chief Doug Murphy. "When the road turned to dirt, she discontinued the pursuit because of the large dust cloud."

The officer turned off her emergency equipment and stopped pursuing Augustyn, but continued to drive down the dirt road. When he turned down Whiskey Road, Murphy said Augustyn nearly lost control of the ATV there and accelerated rapidly onto the dirt.

"She did what she was supposed to do," Murphy said. "She backed off and used good judgment. The situation was beyond her control."

Augustyn had turned into a plowed field in an attempt to lose the officer. About a minute later, she came upon the overturned 4-wheeler and found the teenager unconscious near the road and started performing CPR.

Augustyn had flipped the ATV when he tried to exit the field back onto the roadway. The officer had revived the young man enough to where he had a pulse and was breathing slightly by the time paramedics arrived, but his condition worsened and he was pronounced dead at a nearby medical center later that morning.

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