Sheriff’s office releases apology letter to wife of Illinois man killed in motorcycle accident four years ago

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The Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office recently released an apology letter to the family of an Illinois man who was killed in a motorcycle accident involving a deputy’s squad car that happened in July 2016.

Signed by Sheriff John Booker and addressed to Lynette Damhoff, the spouse of 58-year-old William “Bill” Damhoff of Morrison, the letter was issued as part of a settlement following the investigation of the incident.

The following is the letter sent by Sheriff Booker on behalf of the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office:

Dear Mrs. Damhoff,

I am writing this letter regarding the unfortunate accident which occurred on July 25, 2016, resulting in the death of your husband, Bill. On behalf of the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to offer our sincere condolences and apology for the circumstances causing the accident.

Deputy Wunderlich, the Sheriff’s Deputy involved in the accident, should have been utilizing his emergency lights at the time of the accident. At the time, due to light traffic on a rural road, he thought it was the safer way to proceed but he now realizes, with the benefit of hindsight, that it was the wrong decision and that his emergency lights should have been used. Deputy Wunderlich also should have exercised more care in executing his left-hand turn at the subject intersection. Although Deputy Wunderlich thought that Bill’s motorcycle was a safe distance away when he made his left turn, he should have taken more time to assess the situation in order to adequately assess the distance of Bill’s approaching motorcycle.

I have issued a statement to all deputies in my office to emphasize that they should always utilize their emergency lights (and/or siren where appropriate) whenever it is necessary as authorized by law, to otherwise violate the rules of the road, except in which such circumstances (such as a surreptitious approach to a suspected crime scene) where the use of emergency lights and/or siren is not in the interest of safe law enforcement.


John F. Booker


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