DECATUR, ILLINOIS — A Macon County Sheriff’s deputy who allegedly struck a Decatur man with his squad car has been arrested.
Decatur police arrested deputy Brian Duff, 41, Tuesday afternoon on a charge of aggravated reckless driving for allegedly hitting Tom Lennox, 55, as well as the S-10 pickup truck Lennox had been riding in. Lennox was hit around 10:39 p.m. June 29 as he was placing a mattress and box springs back in the bed of the pickup truck.
Lennox was pinned between both Duff’s squad car and the pickup and suffered a head injury and injuries to both legs. He was treated at Decatur Memorial Hospital before being transferred to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, where he underwent amputation of both lower legs.
Lennox, who is still in the hospital, was listed in fair condition Tuesday afternoon.
Duff and two other occupants of the pickup truck Lennox was riding in were transported to local hospitals, where they were treated and released after the accident, Decatur Deputy Police Chief James Chervinko said earlier this month.
Decatur Police Chief Todd Walker said his department has been investigating the accident since it occurred late last month. He noted that the extensive investigation, conducted by the Decatur police traffic investigators and members of the department’s Fatal Accident Investigation Team, included several interviews and an accident reconstruction to ascertain the events leading up to the accident.
Walker said the two-week investigation indicated that Duff, who was on duty June 29, was operating his squad car recklessly at the time of the accident.
“The facts of the investigation demonstrated to us that deputy Duff’s driving actions, or a lack of actions, were clearly reckless and unsafe,” Walker said. “In addition, Mr. Lennox suffered great bodily harm and permanent disfigurement, which elevates the reckless driving charge to a preliminary charge of aggravated reckless driving.”
Walker said preliminary tests conducted at the Illinois State Police Crime Lab did not indicate Duff was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
He noted that due to the ongoing investigation, he could not comment on whether Duff was distracted at the time of the accident.
Decatur police responded to the accident, which occurred in the 2700 block of North Jasper Street, at 10:39 p.m.
According to Walker, a Chevy S-10 pickup truck, driven by Lloyd Dial, was hauling a mattress and other items when the mattress and box springs fell out of the truck bed.
Dial pulled over to the east curb of the street, activated his emergency hazard lights and put the car in park, while Lennox exited the vehicle to retrieve the mattress and box springs.
As Lennox was placing and adjusting the items in the truck bed, both he and the rear end of the truck were suddenly struck by Duff, Walker said.
“The impact between the sheriff’s (deputy’s) vehicle and the S-10 was significant enough that the squad car lifted the rear of the pickup off the pavement, advancing it forward for a distance and pinning Mr. Lennox between the two vehicles,” Walker said.
Macon County Sheriff Thomas Schneider said his thoughts are with Lennox and his family.
“My heart goes out to those who were injured in the accident,” he said, adding that his thoughts are also with Duff and his family. “This outcome is something we never like to see, but the Decatur Police Department did a very thorough and professional job with this investigation, and now it’s up to us to make sure our internal investigation is conducted professionally and with integrity.”
Walker echoed Schneider’s sentiments.
“Our thoughts go out to Mr. Lennox and his family during this difficult and challenging recovery period, and to be frank, to all parties involved,” Walker said. “We understand this incident has altered the lives of all involved. We do not take any arrest situation lightly and recognize that this may potentially impact Mr. Duff’s career in law enforcement.”
Walker said the findings of his department’s investigation were handed over to the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office, which concurred with the investigation and probable cause findings toward Duff.
Schneider said disciplinary action toward Duff will hinge on what is discovered through both the Decatur Police Department’s accident investigation and his office’s internal investigation.
Walker said police will not be taking any action with regard Dial or Lennox.
Duff, a seven-year veteran of the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, is currently being held in the Macon County Jail.