A Good Samaritan's effort to help a San Diego police officer involved in a traffic collision inadvertently set off a massive police response in San Carlos.
Dave Nelson of La Mesa rushed to aid the officer who had just been hit by a vehicle driven by an elderly woman at the intersection of Jackson and Golfcrest drives, near Mission Trails Golf Course Thursday morning.
Nelson, who witnessed the accident, said the officer was pinned in his seat and handed him his walkie-talkie.
"I just pushed the button and said 'Officer hit at Jackson and Golfcrest.' I expected some kind of response, nothing. So I said it again," Nelson said. "I just assumed the radio was no longer working."
But what Nelson did not know is, at the time, police were looking for a man reportedly hiding a gun underneath his shirt.
Well over 30 officers rushed to the scene, presuming the citizen radio call meant the officer was "hit" by a gunshot rather than another car.
The call alerted officers that they needed to get to the scene quickly.
"We had a citizen who's getting on the radio, which was obviously a concern for the dispatcher immediately and any of the officers listening," Sgt. Mark Stephens said.
The officer was driving eastbound on Golfcrest Drive with his lights and sirens on. As he passed through the intersection, he was struck by the elderly driver going north on Jackson Drive.
The driver had a green light, but never saw the officer and T-boned his vehicle.
According to a sergeant at the scene, the officer complained of hip pain and was taken to a hospital. The elderly driver suffered minor injuries and was also taken to a hospital.
The driver of a third vehicle stopped at a red light was also hit in the accident. He was not injured.
According to police, the officer's vehicle data showed he was driving under 20 miles per hour. The elderly driver was not speeding. She was in the slow lane, and her vision may have been blocked by two other cars in the fast lane yielding to the officer.
The search for the man possibly carrying a gun was eventually called off.
"On TV, everything is scripted. In real life, you just react," Nelson said. "I didn't think, of course, I didn't know he was chasing anybody with a gun or anything. So maybe, I would have phrased it differently."