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Merced police officer survives motorcycle crash

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG
A Merced Police motorcycle cop is attended to by other police  and Highway Patrol officers on Tuesday afternoon on W. 16th Street in Merced. The cop was hit by a driver in a car who changed lanes and hit the policeman.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG A Merced Police motorcycle cop is attended to by other police and Highway Patrol officers on Tuesday afternoon on W. 16th Street in Merced. The cop was hit by a driver in a car who changed lanes and hit the policeman. Merced Sun-Star

A Merced Police Department motorcycle officer escaped serious injury Tuesday afternoon after he was hit and thrown from his bike.

According to the California Highway Patrol, at 3:03 p.m. Tuesday, Rene Martinez, 50, of Riverbank, was driving a 2001 Mercury Sable on the 16th Street offramp, coming from northbound Highway 99, going about 15 mph. Merced Police Officer Craig McKeeman, 36, was riding a 2006 BMW motorcycle while on duty westbound on East 16th Street at about 30 mph. McKeeman had been working a vehicle impound a couple of blocks east of the northbound offramp of Highway 99, according to Merced Police Lt. Andre Matthews.

Martinez changed lanes, into McKeeman's lane. McKeeman saw him and hit his brakes. The left front of the Mercury struck the front wheel of the motorcycle, and McKeeman was thrown from his bike, landing in the dirt in the center divider of 16th Street. McKeeman sustained minor injuries and was taken to Mercy Medical Center for treatment. Martinez was not injured.

Matthews said McKeeman's injuries were not life-threatening, and he was wearing a helmet new to the police department.

The helmet, a full-face model, was only a couple of weeks old and the face plate was scratched and dented.

"If he had been wearing the old style helmet, this would have been his face," Matthews said, pointing to the helmet.

According to CHP officer Thomas O'Keefe, Martinez was not cited pending investigation, and DUI was not a factor in the collision.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com.

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