Officials to probe whether police officer ran red light before Green Line collision


Officials will investigate whether a St. Paul police officer went through a red light when he crossed an intersection and collided with a Green Line train on Monday, the Pioneer Press reports.

Witness to the collision Karin Odell told the newspaper she saw the lights beginning to change to red as officer Pil Jeon's squad car entered the intersection, where he was hit by the eastbound light rail train at University Avenue and Pascal Street at 2.30 p.m.

Officer Jeon was knocked unconscious in the crash and was later taken to Regions Hospital with neck and back pain before being released Monday night, according to the Star Tribune.

Sgt. Paul Paulos, spokesman for St. Paul police, told the Star Tribune that Jeon's car is said to have had its lights and siren on when crossing the intersection.

Emergency vehicles responding to calls automatically activate green lights at road intersections, Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla told the Pioneer Press, but the system does not work for train signals, with officers instructed to proceed cautiously when crossing a red light or stop intersection.

Padilla added that whether Jeon went through a red or green light will form a part of the investigation into the collision.

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KSTP reports that the crash caused gasoline to spill into the street, and that buses replaced light rail trains while the scene was cleaned up.

The $1 billion Green Line connects Minneapolis with St. Paul, and was recently praised by CNN Money for creating jobs and driving regeneration projects.

Collisions a frequent occurrence on Green Line

There have been 23 collisions between the end of April and the end of October involving Green Line trains and cars or pedestrians, the Press Press reports, compared to the Blue Line which only had 27 collisions in its first three-and-a-half years of operation.

The first fatal collision on the Green Line happened at the end of August, just six weeks after it opened fully to the public, when a woman was killed while walking across the line in St. Paul.

Even prior to opening on June 14, there were multiple collisions as the trains were tested, including a crash between a car and train on Portland Avenue in downtown Minneapolis just six days before its official launch.

While collisions on the Blue Line, which connects the Mall of America and Minneapolis-St Paul airport with downtown Minneapolis, are less frequent, a pedestrian was killed crossing the line at E 35th St. in June, the Star Tribune reported.

And earlier that month, a car was struck by a Blue Line train in downtown Minneapolis after the driver ran a red light, according to MPR.

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