police

An El Campo police cruiser collided with a red light runner on North Mechanic shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday. The officer sustained minor injuries, his vehicle possibly totaled and two arrests were made.

The officer had been southbound on North Mechanic on routine patrol approaching the intersection with Church Street, according to ECPD Lt. Justin Soza.

“The other vehicle ran the red light and they crashed,” Soza said. “Our car hit them when they pulled out.”

The officer, who sustained minor injuries, was transported to El Campo Memorial Hospital for evaluation, treated and released.

The driver of the white Kia Sportage, 23-year-old Gilbert Allen Espericueta of 611 W. Norris, was arrested for marijuana possession, running a red light and warrants for no insurance and violating a promise to appear.

His passenger, 24-year-old Jorge Juan Gutierrez Jr. of 1114 Corn, was arrested on a Wharton County Sheriff’s Department warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, public intoxication and warrants for two counts of no driver’s license and single counts of speeding, violating a promise to appear and no insurance.

Both were sent to the Wharton County Jail the next day. Espericueta posted $1,100 in bonds and was released the same day. Gutierrez was held in lieu of $11,000 in bonds as of press time.

The status of the ECPD Ford Explorer will depend on insurance adjusters, but Soza said it may be considered a total loss, adding, “So much of the vehicles these days are aluminum.”

Worldwide issues with vehicle availability makes the wreck a concern. Tuesday, the department put in service a Dodge Durango approved by city council on May 10. A Chevrolet Tahoe ordered after city council approval on Dec. 14, 2020, was finally ready for pick up.

The department still awaits a Dodge Charger approved for purchase July 12.

The wreck won’t interfere with the number of vehicles on patrol at any one time, but means vehicles will be run more hours per week. Routinely, night shift vehicles, for example, are used during the day and vice versa to maximize the unit’s lifespan.

Ideally, an ECPD vehicle is replaced after 100,000 miles of service.

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