Akron police motorcycle officer Jason McKeel remembers seeing the minivan pull in front of him and then … nothing.

He doesn't recall crashing into the vehicle, which was driven by a suspected drunken driver.

He doesn't recall being trapped under the minivan.

And he doesn't recall witnesses rushing to his side.

He just remembers waking up inside a CT scan machine at Cleveland Clinic Akron General with broken bones in his left hand, right leg, ribs and back.

"Obviously, at that point I knew that I had gone down and hit something," said McKeel, a 23-year veteran who has been riding with the motorcycle unit for a decade. "It wasn't until I talked to people about what happened that I learned actually what did happen."

He recounted the crash — at least what he could recall of it — during a news conference Friday morning at the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center in downtown Akron. He's using crutches to get around and was still wearing a yellow hospital-issued sock on his right foot. 

So what did happen?

McKeel, 45, was working overtime Saturday night as part of a program to catch motorists driving under the influence in the city's Highland Square neighborhood before his regular traffic shift. He was in the process of going after a speeding vehicle — perhaps a drunken driver — on South Portage Path with his emergency lights activated when a 2002 Toyota Sienna entered the road from Bloomfield Avenue, and McKeel collided with the minivan.

He had no time to avoid the vehicle, authorities said.

Police released photos of the scene that show a crumpled motorcycle and the side of the minivan smashed in.

The driver of the minivan, Corrie M. Sharpe, 65, of Akron, has been charged with a stop sign violation, operating a vehicle under the influence, aggravated vehicular assault and endangering children, according to Akron Municipal Court records. She had her 11-year-old granddaughter in the minivan at the time of the accident.

"It's kind of ironic that I was trying to stop a speeder and hit a [suspected] drunk driver. That's ironic," McKeel said.

It isn't the first time that he was involved in a motorcycle accident while on duty. McKeel was escorting a funeral procession in 2017 when a vehicle ducked into the procession and then turned suddenly in front of him. He smacked into the side of the vehicle.

Despite those two accidents, he plans to continue riding. In addition to serving with the police motorcycle unit, he has a 2013 Harley-Davidson Road King at home.

"I told my fellow officers who ride somebody else needs to step up and take one for the team next time. I'm done," said McKeel, who displayed a sense of humor during the news conference.

He said he feels no anger toward Sharpe, whose blood-alcohol level was 0.125 — which is above the state limit of 0.08 — when police gave her a breathalyzer test at the station following the accident. He's happy she and her granddaughter weren't injured.

"I'm glad that it was me who hit her instead of a large pickup truck or an SUV coming barreling down or the car I was trying to get in behind to stop," he said. "That could have been worse."

He and his wife, Dawn, have four children. They urged the public to be watchful for motorcycles on the road and to avoid drinking and driving.

"Nowadays, there's Uber, Lyft," Dawn McKeel said. "Pick up the phone and call somebody [instead of drinking and driving]."

As for his injuries, doctors have told McKeel that it will take six to eight weeks for his bones to heal. He already had surgery to insert a metal rod into his leg. He will start physical therapy soon.

"This was the highlight of my day," he joked about talking with the media.

 

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.