ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves offered its condolences over the weekend to head trainer Jeff Porter, saying the team was "deeply saddened" after Porter's wife Kathy died in what authorities described as a collision between a Georgia State Patrol cruiser and an SUV driven by the trainer.
"The Braves family is deeply saddened and shocked to learn about the tragic accident," the team said in an emailed statement hours after the crash Saturday afternoon. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jeff and Kathy's family, their son David and all their friends and loved ones."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/urkIDS ) reported that Porter, his wife and son and a friend were on their way to the Chick-fil-A-Bowl at the time, about 4:40 p.m. Saturday.
A witness, Steve Bouye, told the newspaper on Sunday he had just gotten off work from his job as a federal prison employee when he saw the trooper's cruiser zoom past him on Saturday afternoon.
"As soon as I saw him go past I said 'Man I hope he don't hit nobody,'" Bouye said. "Seconds later I heard a big blast like a train crash."
Bouye said he and Jeff Porter tried unsuccessfully to open Kathy Porter's door as she faded in and out of consciousness after the collision.
State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said in an email statement late Saturday that the trooper was traveling with emergency lights and siren activated Saturday afternoon when the cruiser struck a Ford Expedition driven by Jeff Porter at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Capitol Avenue.
Wright said the trooper, who had been traveling westbound on Memorial Drive, was going to assist another trooper who was attempting to stop a motorcyclist on nearby Interstate 20, west of the Downtown Connector. Wright said that motorcyclist had failed to yield.
State police provided few new details Sunday, but Wright said in an email statement that the trooper "was not involved in a chase but going to assist another trooper."
According to Wright, the Ford Expedition was traveling northbound on Capitol Avenue when it was struck on the passenger side. The statement said the SUV then struck a utility pole.
Kathy Porter, 54, of Loganville, a passenger in the SUV, died in the crash, Wright's statement to The Associated Press said. It added that Jeff Porter and two other passengers in the SUV— the couple's 19-year-old son David and a friend, Courtney Ann Williams, 18, of Grayson — were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries. All three were released later Saturday.
The Georgia State Patrol on Sunday night identified the officer as Trooper First Class Donald Crozier, a 10-year veteran.
He was examined at the same hospital and released. He has been placed on administrative leave as state police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fulton County District Attorney's office investigate. Wright said the State Patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team was dispatched to the crash scene to help determine the cause.
"Any personnel actions related to the crash will be based on the findings of the various investigations," Wright wrote.
According to an MLB.com article posted on the Braves web site, former manager Bobby Cox, manager Fredi Gonzales and catcher Brian McCann went to the hospital to be with Jeff Porter after the accident. The article said Porter joined Atlanta's training staff in 1985 and has been head trainer since 2003.