The Metro Nashville Police Department is mourning one of their own after an unlicensed teen driver slammed into an officer’s police car in an intersection, killing him instantly.
John Anderson, 28, was en route to the scene of a person standing in the middle of traffic at 3 a.m. Thursday when his police cruiser was hit at the intersection of Woodland Street and Interstate Drive in Nashville, Tennessee’s East Bank neighborhood, according to police.
The driver of the vehicle, a 17-year-old female currently being held as a juvenile, was charged with vehicular homicide by recklessness, felony evading arrest, aggravated assault by recklessness, driving on a suspended license and juvenile curfew violation, police said.
The teen was fleeing a traffic stop from another officer for a lane violation when the accident occurred, police said. The other officer was not pursuing the driver at the time of the crash.
He was a four-year veteran of the Nashville police, working in the Central Precinct, and also a bagpiper with the department’s Drill and Ceremony Team. He was also a member of the U.S. Marine Corps reserve, according to police.
Anderson was unmarried, but had an 18-month-old son with his former girlfriend, Kristen Buell.
“It’s hard being … so involved in someone’s life that they’re being put out there for everyone else’s protection, but that’s where his heart was,” Buell told Nashville ABC affiliate WKRN. “That’s what he wanted to do. He wanted to serve in Nashville.”
The sister of Anderson’s current girlfriend, Katelyn Smith, told WKRN the two planned to get engaged soon.
“I want people to know that John loved Katelyn so much and they [were] going to be engaged soon,” Smith’s sister said in a statement. “And he took Katelyn’s son, Liam, in as his own and was an incredible father to him in addition to his own son, Gavin. He was truly a part of our family. I considered him a brother. He was a great friend and a true family man. He always pushed us to be better, just as he pushed himself. We are all better off for knowing him and being loved by him.”
The 17-year-old driver suffered minor injuries in the accident, but has been treated and released. Her passenger, 18-year-old Antona Esaw, was critically injured and is being treated at Skyline Medical Center, police said.
Anderson is the third police officer nationwide to be killed in a vehicular assault this year.
The driver is due in court at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.