Jefferson County deputy fired after multiple wrecks

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT HADLOCK — A sheriff's deputy who had been involved in three wrecks that were considered preventable since he was hired in June has lost his job, said Jefferson County Sheriff Tony Hernandez.

Hernandez fired Timothy O'Dell, who is in his mid-20s, on April 16 after a third wreck occurred while a second was under review.

“We don't take this lightly,” the sheriff said.

“We expect that accidents will happen when we are on the job,” he said, “but we don't expect that we will be the cause of those accidents.”

On April 12, O'Dell was heading south on U.S. Highway 101 to investigate a report of domestic violence when he rolled his patrol car near Mount Walker, Hernandez said.

According to Hernandez, O'Dell said he misjudged the turn.

The wreck was about a mile away from the site of a March 17 collision, when O'Dell struck a second patrol car that had made a U-turn to pursue a speeding car, according to Hernandez.

Neither deputy was hurt.

The first wreck occurred shortly after O'Dell was hired in June, when the deputy struck a parked car, Hernandez said.

Hernandez said all three wrecks “were determined to be preventable” and should have never happened.

O'Dell's actions have taken three cars out of commission, the one he wrecked most recently and both cars in the March 17 crash, Hernandez.

Both of the cars O'Dell was driving were near the end of their five-year cycle, while the other car in the March 17 incident was a new $38,000 cruiser, Hernandez said.

The financial impact on the department has yet to be determined, Hernandez said.

“These events are unexpected, and you can't build them into the budget,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he was embarrassed by the wrecks.

“The department drives half a million miles every year and has a good safety record,” he said.

“We can't have a deputy that has poor judgment.”

Hernandez said O'Dell may have ended his career in law enforcement.

“If he ever applies for a job with another police department, he will have to explain why this occurred,” Hernandez said.



Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 24. 2013 6:14PM
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