A state Highway Patrol officer who crashed while trying to catch up to a speeding motorist got some aid from an unlikely source — the man he was chasing.
The patrolman, Frank Nowakowski, was uninjured in the crash Wednesday.
Nowakowski was nearing the end of his shift along Interstate 15 when a vehicle sped by at more than 95 mph in the opposite lanes.
Nowakowski crossed the median and took off after the driver, reaching speeds of 120 mph in an effort to catch up. Nowakowski said he had just decided to end the pursuit for safety reasons when one of the rear tires of his cruiser blew out, sending his patrol car careering off the highway and through a barbed-wire fence.
“This happened in a heartbeat,” he said. “I had no idea.”
Moments later, the man he had been trying to stop, whom the patrol identified only as a Bozeman man, was at his side at the crash scene.
‘It was very heartfelt’
Trooper David Braggs said the driver apparently was unaware that Nowakowski was trying to pull him over, but saw a large cloud of dust in his rearview mirror, knew there had been an accident and turned around to help.
The man, who later confessed to being late for an appointment, agreed to give officers a statement, and if nothing else, had the opportunity to apologize.
“It was very heartfelt,” said Nowakowski. “He felt bad because there could have been some lousy consequences.”
Capt. Butch Huseby of the Highway Patrol called it “amazing” and “fortunate” the trooper’s car didn’t roll.
No citations had been issued as of Thursday, the Great Falls Tribune reported on its Web site.