Watkins Mill High School student struck by police vehicle upgraded to stable condition -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated at 10:45 a.m. Sept. 23.

A 15-year-old has been upgraded from serious to guarded but stable condition after she was struck by a police vehicle approaching her high school on Sept. 21.

Montgomery County Police say Janaya Richards, a 10th-grader at Watkins Mills High School was struck by a police vehicle driven by Cpl. Raymond Bennett an officer with the county’s 5th district.

The collision occurred while police officers were arriving in the area near the school in response to reports of fighting that was happening in the surrounding neighborhood, police said in a statement.

Richards was struck while walking in a roadway near the school at around 9:14 p.m. on Sept. 21, according to a statement from county police

Bennett, an 18-year veteran of the police force, as well as three other officers who rendered aid to the girl, were placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, said Capt. Paul Starks of the county police.

“It's our protocol when the officer is involved in a traumatic incident,” he said.

The incident occurred after the Watkins Mills High School football team had finished playing a home game against Clarksburg. As the game finished, police received multiple 911 calls about fights breaking out, police said. Those 911 calls were joined by requests for back up from eight officers assigned to security for the game.

It was not immediately clear whether the school had a history of trouble after games. However, the county providing officers to athletic events was a program the police had maintained for years, Starks said.

Multiple officers were called to the area to assist, Starks said. Two police vehicles made their way to the school, which at the same time still had game attendees attempting to leave by crossing a nearby roadway, Apple Ridge Road.

Multiple calls to Watkins Mills High School weren’t returned immediately, but the school released a statement about incident on its website in which School Principal Scott Murphy described the crash.

“As game spectators were walking down Apple Ridge Road to go home after the game, a 10th-grade female student was struck by a police vehicle that was travelling on Apple Ridge Road,” he said.

Police say the collision occurred as two police cars with emergency lights on made the turn onto Apple Ridge Road. While the first vehicle avoided the teenager, the second one struck her, police said. It was not immediately clear whether the vehicles had their sirens on at the time of the crash, Starks said.

“That’s part of the investigation,” he said.

The girl was tended to by first responders, Murphy said.

“Medical personnel, as well as school officials, immediately responded to the scene,” he said in a statement.

The girl was rushed to a local hospital, where she was conscious and able to talk to hospital officials, police said. Members of the county’s Police-Collision Reconstruction Unit were investigating the scene.

Following the incident, the school will have counselors and additional support staff available on Sept. 24 for students who might need it, Murphy said.

Despite the incident, the school will move forward with its planned homecoming game and celebration on Sept. 28, Murphy said.

“I know the entire community joins me in wishing her a speedy recovery and is keeping her family in our thoughts and prayers,” he said. “Please be assured that the police will continue to investigate the facts surrounding this incident.”

amccombs@gazette.net