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Cary officer nearly killed in motorcycle wreck returns to duty

Posted March 27, 2012

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— A motorcycle officer for the Cary Police Department was back on the job Tuesday after a serious collision with a pickup truck on N.C. Highway 55 nearly cost him his life last summer.

Senior Officer Chad Penland underwent extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy after the wreck caused him multiple broken bones and severe facial injuries, but he didn't hesitate before getting back on his motorcycle for patrol.

"(It) feels good to be back. It's been a long time. It's been a long road," he said. 

On July 15, Penland was trying to make a traffic stop near Morrisville-Carpenter Road when a Dodge pickup truck made a left turn in front of his motorcycle. He struck the truck face-first and went flying through the air before landing hard on the road.

His partner, Senior Officer Keith Perkins, said Penland didn't think he was going to survive.

"He was asking if he was going to die. He kept telling us, 'Don't let me die. Don't let me die,'" Perkins said.

Cary officer back to work after near-fatal wreck Cary officer back to work after near-fatal wreck

Penland, who said he doesn't remember anything about the crash, said he believes he would have died that day, if not for the quick-thinking kindness of a stranger. Jessica Elliott, a nurse from Lynchburg, Va., was at the intersection of N.C. 55 and Morrisville-Carpenter Road that afternoon.

She watched the wreck in horror, she told WRAL News in July.

"They told me, had she not been there, from the time of the accident until I died on the highway would have been less than three minutes," Penland said. "The injuries to my face were so extensive and severe that I would have drowned in my own blood."

Penland spent 12 days at Duke University Hospital; he was in a coma for four of them. 

The pickup driver, who was not injured, was charged with failing to yield the right of way.

An off-duty paramedic and an off-duty firefighter also assisted Penland at the scene, but it's Elliott who has been credited with saving his life.

She was honored by the Cary Town Council in November, which was the first time Penland got the chance to publicly thank her. The two have become good friends.

"There was a picture taken at the Town of Cary recognition for her, and it's a picture of me with all her family," Penland said. "She put that picture on her Christmas card. That's pretty special, isn't it?"

12 Comments

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  • Rocky2.0 Mar 28, 2012

    ""inherent dangerous nature of riding a motorcycle"??? you are probably one of those people that cause these accidents. it ain't the bike rider. ride safe."

    Huh? Explain the logic of your statement please. Wait, you can't.

    Statistically, the more miles you travel, the more likely you will get into an accident. Cops on patrol drive a lot.

    According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2006,

    13.10 cars out of 100,000 ended up in fatal crashes as opposed to 72.34 motorcycles per 100,000

    Motorcycles also have a higher fatality rate per unit of distance traveled than cars.

    Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists' risk of a fatal crash is 35 times greater than a car

    These are the facts, irrespective of who is at fault (car vs. motorcycle).

    So the question still is, given the facts, why do PDs put cops on motorcycles?

  • chattycat Mar 28, 2012

    God is still in the miracle making business. Thanks to Ms. Elliott for taking charge when needed. aquamarine46

    LIKE!!

  • aquamarine46 Mar 28, 2012

    God is still in the miracle making business. Thanks to Ms. Elliott for taking charge when needed.

  • kellypratz Mar 28, 2012

    Back in 92 my husband was coming home from work on his motorcycle and car coming in opposite direction passed another car and hit my husband head on. My husband had a broken leg, broken pelvis, internal injuries. My husband had a long recovery as well. He has steel plate holding his pelvis together and steel pole in his lower left leg. You can imagine he sets off any metal detector. To this day he still rides as his love of motorcycles will always be there. Glad to hear Officer Penland has not let this get in the way of his riding.

  • wdweveryyear Mar 28, 2012

    "She put that picture on her Christmas card. That's pretty special, isn't it?"

    yes it is!! nice story

  • piloterror1 Mar 28, 2012

    "inherent dangerous nature of riding a motorcycle"???????????
    you are probably one of those people that cause these accidents. it ain't the bike rider.
    ride safe.

  • twoods7 Mar 28, 2012

    Welcome back Officer and stay safe...

  • Rocky2.0 Mar 28, 2012

    I've never understood why PDs have cops on motorcycles given the number of miles they drive and the inherent dangerous nature of riding a motorcycle.

  • 2gurlz2boyzMom Mar 27, 2012

    thanks ms. elliott for your quick thinking.
    welcome back officer penland.

  • Bumble Bee Mar 27, 2012

    Thank God for the guardian angels He has spread among us. It's heartwarming to hear that Officer Penland not only survived this horrible crash but recovered back to duty.

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