Rufus Devane and Santiago Cruz, both Miami Beach, Florida police sergeants, were injured in a motorcycle crash Wednesday while helping to escort the president to the airport, news sources report. Devane, 42, and Cruz, 49, sustained non-fatal injuries and were treated at an area hospital. Police are currently conducting an investigation to determine the exact cause of the accident. So far, it is unclear whether there will be any charges or citations.
Reports say that both officers are motorcycle brigade veterans. Devane has been a motorcycle sergeant with the Miami Beach police department for 19 years, while Sgt. Cruz has also been a motorcycle sergeant with the department for little more than 22 years. So far, the department has not publicly commented on the crash.
According to reports, President Barack Obama was in Miami Beach Wednesday evening attending two Democratic fundraisers. Later that night, the president was heading back to the Miami International Airport. Sources say that the president’s limo was escorted by a motorcade consisting of the secret service and area police officers, including Devane and Cruz.
Devane and Cruz were with a portion of the motorcade near the intersection of Interstate 95 and State Road 836 when the crash occurred. While the details of the accident are still murky, a police spokesperson said that an abandoned car on the road’s shoulder might have played a role in the crash. Devane and Cruz were both taken to the Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center; sources say their injuries are considered non-life threatening.
Reports say President Obama’s trip to the Miami International Airport was unaffected by the crash. Sources say Obama departed the airport ahead of schedule. The White House has remained mum regarding the crash for the time being.
Another motorcycle officer was actually killed in a similar accident while preparing the roads for President Obama late last year. Bruce St. Laurent, a Jupiter, Florida police officer, was killed in a motorcycle accident in September as he attempted to shut down Interstate 95 for the President’s motorcade, reports say. Laurent, 55, was pronounced dead at an area hospital shortly after the crash.
According to reports, Laurent had been with the police department for 20 years, had been married for 30 years, and had four children. He was also an established member of the offices motorcycle unit, going on 18 years on the force. In the years of 1993, 1996, and 2008 he was awarded the department’s “Officer of the Quarter” award. In 1996, the office named him “Officer of the Year.”
Sources say the accident took place while the President’s motorcade travelled down Interstate 95 at around 4:40 p.m. Laurent was on his police motorcycle near the front of the vehicle escort when he drove up an I-95 exit ramp to temporarily block traffic for the motorcade. Susan Holloway, driving a Ford F-150, allegedly crashed into him as she attempted to enter the Interstate.
Laurent sustained critical injuries and was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center. He was pronounced dead shortly after he visit. “Bruce St. Laurent was a valued member of our community and employee within the Town of Jupiter. He was an amazing person who will be missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to know him,” a memorial webpage dedicated to Officer Laurent says.