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On June 25, 2005, at approximately 12:23 a.m., a traffic collision occurred between a private vehicle and a black and white patrol vehicle at the intersection of Los Coyotes Diagonal and Palo Verde Avenue.
The black and white patrol vehicle, occupied by two officers on routine patrol, was traveling westbound on Los Coyotes Diagonal approaching Palo Verde Avenue. The suspect vehicle, a 1996 Mazda MPV, being driven by 18 year-old Christopher Anthony Mihkelson of Long Beach, was traveling the opposite direction heading eastbound on Los Coyotes Diagonal. Suspect Mihkelson was, according to witnesses, traveling at 60 to 70 miles per hour and weaving in and out of traffic lanes. He attempted to make a left turn to continue northbound on Palo Verde Avenue, but turned in front of the black and white causing the near head-on collision. The suspect never applied his brakes prior to the impact with the black and white.
The officer in the passenger seat, Officer Michael Barth, with five-years on the Department, was able to exit the vehicle and run around to the driverís side. Officer Binh Thanh Duong, with six-months on the Department, was seating behind the wheel and unconscious. As Officer Barth was checking on his partner, the black and white burst into flames. Units arriving to assist attempted to control the fire with extinguishers; however, Officer Duong was trapped in the vehicle. Citizens and nearby neighbors began filling buckets with water from a nearby hose and poured them onto the black and white to keep the flames away from officers. Officers were finally able to pull Officer Duong away from the wreckage and he was immediately transported to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. Officer Duong sustained head injuries and two broken legs. Officer Barth received minor injuries but was also transported to the hospital.
Suspect Mihkelson also received minor injuries and was transported. After being released from the hospital, he was booked for Felony Driving Under the Influence with Injury and is being held at the Los Angeles County Jailís Medical Ward on $100,000 bail. Fortunately, all parties were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident.
This case is being investigated by Sergeant Hans Kohnlein of the Long Beach Police Departmentís Accident Investigation Detail - (562) 570-7355.
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