Jamestown officer killed in wrong-way crash on I-95 south
Rhode Island State Police are investigating an unusual wrong-way crash early Monday morning that killed two young men.
Police said a 24-year-old Jamestown police officer was on his way home from work when a Massachusetts man hit him head-on while driving down Interstate 95.
State police said wrong-way signs and a notification system can usually prevent accidents like this from happening, but that only works when someone is exiting or entering the highway ... not when they're already on it.
"It's sad all around," said state police Capt. John Allen, who has covered several wrong-way crashes but very few like this crash in East Greenwich.
"First one in recent memeory that I can think of where the operator actually pulled a U-turn in the middle of the highway," he said. "Most commonly it involves an on-ramp or an off-ramp where we get those wrong-way drivers."
According to state police, surveillance video and witnesses said 23-year-old Dejae Pizzaro of Bedford, Massachusetts, was going the right way on I-95 south. He then pulled onto the shoulder and made a U-turn and headed north in the fast lane.
"They were beeping their horns trying to get the attention of the operator going in the wrong way," Allen said. "At one point he just sped up and they weren't able to keep up."
A minute or two later and he collided with off-duty Patrolman Ryan Bourque. Police said Pizzaro's car went up in flames. Firefighters had to put the fire out before using the Jaws of Life to get the men out of their respective vehicles. Both were pronounced dead at local hospitals.
State police said there was no sign of drugs or alcohol in Pizzaro's vehicle. Troopers are now waiting to see if toxicology results can explain why he made an illegal and ultimately deadly U-Turn.
"Spoke to his mother, got a little bit of information that he may have been at a graduation party," Allen said. "I don't think it was a case of suicide, to be honest with you. I just think not from the area, not familiar and there may have been other factors and that's what we're going to work on."
State police said they have video of Pizzaro making the U-turn and speeding up but not of the actual crash.