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Police Officer & Vehicle Struck - 11.08.20 (IA) "UPDATED 04.19.21"


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WDM police: 1 officer, 1 man in hospital after crash on I-35


WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — A West Des Moines officer and a driver are in the hospital after a crash on I-35 early Sunday morning.


A few minutes after midnight, authorities said Officer Jon Kaufman was standing next to a vehicle on I-35 northbound near the Westown Parkway overpass. Police had previous arrested the driver of the vehicle with an OWI.


The West Des Moines Police Department said Kaufman was waiting on a tow truck when another vehicle collided with Kaufman's patrol vehicle. Police said the second vehicle was being driven by John Schwartz of Kellogg.


Kaufman was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries. Schwartz was also taken to a hospital, but authorities do not know his condition.


The Iowa State Patrol, West Des Moines Police Department and the Des Moines Police Department are investigating the crash.


RESOURCE LINK with video

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Drunk driver WATCHING MOVIE while DRIVING mows down cop



The suspect not only admitted to drinking and watching a movie, but he also said he had the cruise control on an depended too much on the vehicle’s lane assist feature


An Iowa police officer was seriously injured on Sunday by a driver who allegedly admitted to drinking alcohol and playing a movie on his dashboard at the time of the crash.


Citing police, the Des Moines Register reported that West Des Moines police officer Jon Kaufman was waiting for a tow truck on Interstate Highway 35 around midnight when John Schwartz, 61, crashed into his patrol vehicle. According to an incident report, Schwartz not only admitted to drinking and watching a movie, but he also said he had the cruise control on and depended too much on the vehicle’s lane assist feature.


The Register reported that both Kaufman and Schwartz were seriously injured in Sunday’s crash.


While KHAK reported that Kaufman was hospitalized in critical condition, police told the Register on Tuesday that his condition has improved.


Authorities reportedly obtained a search warrant for Schwartz’s blood and urine samples. Charges are pending based on what the tests show.


Schwartz’s current condition has not been disclosed.



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  • 5 months later...

West Des Moines police officer sues southern Iowa casino for over-serving drunk driver that struck him


A West Des Moines police officer seriously injured by an alleged drunk driver last year has sued the driver as well as the southern Iowa casino where he claims bartenders overserved the other motorist before the crash.


Officer Jon Kaufman was awaiting a tow truck to remove another vehicle from the side of Interstate 35 near Westown Parkway just after midnight on Nov. 8 when a car driven by Jon Schwartz, 61, of Kellogg struck the car he was sitting in, seriously injuring both men.


Schwartz was charged in December with serious injury by vehicle and first-offence OWI. He allegedly admitted to investigators that he had been drinking alcohol and was playing a movie on the dashboard of his vehicle when the accident occurred, and that he had the cruise control set and relied too much on vehicle lane assist technology, according to an Iowa State Patrol incident report obtained by the Des Moines Register.


A blood test taken two hours after the crash showed Schwartz with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.104, according to court records.


Kaufman's lawsuit, filed Tuesday, names Schwartz as a defendant, as well as the car rental company Hertz, which owned the car he was driving at the time. Kaufman's wife, Dena, is also listed as a plaintiff.


Schwartz does not have an attorney listed yet in the civil suit, and a message left with his criminal defense attorney was not returned. Hertz did not respond to a request for comment.


The lawsuit also includes claims against a number of entities related to Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola, where Schwartz allegedly spent the day drinking before the crash. The so-called "dramshop" claim alleges that Lakeside employees "knew, or should have known, that Schwartz was intoxicated, or would become intoxicated" as they continued to serve Schwartz throughout the afternoon of Nov.


Named in the suit are HGI-Lakeside LLC, New York-based Z Capital Group, and Las Vegas-based Affinity Gaming. A representative for Z Capital declined to comment via email. A message left with management at the casino Friday was not returned by deadline, and Affinity did not respond to a message seeking comment.


In an interview, Kaufman's attorney, Erik Luthens, said investigators obtained surveillance footage showing that Schwartz had consumed "at least 11 beers" starting at about 4 p.m. on Nov. 7.


He said another patron at the casino contacted police after the crash and said that he had tried to dissuade Schwartz from driving, and even challenged him to do a straight-line walk like that used in field sobriety tests, which Schwartz could not — which was also captured by security cameras.


After Schwartz left, the patron said he alerted employees at the casino. Luthens said the casino did not contact police or take any other action based on that warning.


A West Des Moines police spokesman declined to comment on or confirm any findings of the investigation, but said Kaufman returned to full duty with the department in March.


Kaufman's injuries in the crash included a serious head injury, Luthens said. When his wife, then eight months pregnant with their first child, arrived at the hospital, she was told doctors didn't think he would survive.


"He was in and out of consciousness for about a week and then he pulled through," he said.


Although Kaufman has recovered enough to return to work and his medical bills were covered by his employer, Luthens said there's a possibility he'll face complications down the road from such an injury.


"This incident happened on Nov. 8 and we're in April, so it's very early on," he said. "... Whatever monetary damages they'd receive, you'd rather just have your normal life back rather than a long-term injury or problems from an incident like this."


None of the defendants in Kaufman's suit had attorneys listed Friday, and no responses had been filed. Schwartz is scheduled to stand trial for his criminal charges in September.



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