More tragedy has come to Tuscaloosa. The city, still struggling to recover from the devastating tornado of April 27th, lost one of the first responders who was helping that effort in a tragic accident on Saturday.
Officer Trevor Phillips was killed in an accident while working as an escort for a funeral procession. Tuscaloosa's police chief talked to FOX6 News about how his department is coping with this loss and what happened in the fatal accident.
"(He was) Passing the cars on the left and a person in the procession made a U-turn right in front of him," said Chief Steve Anderson. "They decided, apparently, that they no longer wanted to be a part of the funeral procession and decided to make a U-turn and were going to go the opposite way and unfortunately didn't look before they did and turned in front of him and his motorcycle collided with the vehicle."
Anderson says Phillips was a 10-year veteran of the department, a member of the SWAT team, and had spent the first few days after the devastating April 27th tornado on duty escorting power crews in and out of the disaster zone to help get basic services back up and running.
Now with his department already working almost around the clock for a month and mourning the loss of homes and friends, Tuscaloosa and its police chief and department are facing a double shock.
"It hit us really hard just due to the fact of who Trevor was and the type of officer that he was," Anderson said. "And then on top of that, the tragedy we are dealing with in our city from the destruction and loss of life from the April 27th tornado. His death just compounded the grief many of our officers were already feeling."
"You see all the destruction, and you almost feel zombie-like," said University of Alabama student Nathan Young. "It's hard to keep a smile on your face and joy in your heart when you keep seeing people lose everything and now the police are going through tragedies when they're trying to help people. It's just difficult to stay down here. But we'll get better one day at a time down here, we're a family, so we'll grow."
Phillips was single and his family is coming from California to make funeral arrangements. Chief Anderson says anyone who wants to do something for Phillips' family or department can call Tuscaloosa Police at (205) 349-2121.
Anderson says no charges have been filed against the other driver involved in that accident.
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