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Teen dies in car crash with MPD cruiser

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

A Marion High School student was killed when the car she was driving collided with a Marion Police patrol car late Friday. 

Officers Brian Davis and Gregg Melton were on their way to assist an arrest at Third Street and Western Avenue around 11 p.m., according to MPD.

With Davis driving, officers headed west on Third Street with sirens and lights activated. At the intersection of Washington and Third the police vehicle collided with a 2004 Pontiac driven by Marion High School Student Payton Rogers, 18, of Marion.

The Pontiac had ran a red light, according to Indiana State Police, colliding with the 2018 Ford Taurus police cruiser. Rogers was heading south on Washington Street when the crash happened.

Melton reported the crash to dispatch and requested ambulance and fire assistance. A passenger in the Pontiac, Baleeve Gregory, 18, of Marion, was taken to Marion General Hospital, and Rogers was pronounced dead at the scene by MGH personnel.

An autopsy was performed on Saturday and revealed that Rogers suffered from blunt force trauma to the head that caused a skull fracture and internal bleeding, according to Grant County Coroner Chris Butche.

Gregory was helicoptered from MGH to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, where she was in critical condition as of 1 p.m. Saturday. Details on her injuries were not released.

Davis was also transported to MGH for medical evaluation and was later released from the hospital with complaints of soreness, according to MPD.

Marion Principal Keith Burke said he spoke to Rogers every morning as she walked into school. He said they joked around on Friday morning when he saw her come in. He had no idea it would be their last conversation.

“She’s a great kid, just a kind person and a hard worker,” he said. “I know teenagers can be catty sometimes, but I have never known anyone to dislike her. She’s a great kid, well liked by everyone, always had a smile on her face, and a really sweet person … I guess my mornings are going to look different now. She had such a promising future”

Burke said grief counseling will be provided for students on Monday.

“Graduation is going to be tough without her,” he said. “It’s going to be a rough couple of weeks for all of us.”

Deputy Chief Stephen Dorsey said counseling will also be provided to Davis and Melton prior to their return to work.

“They’re not doing well, no one is,” he said. “This is an awful tragedy and our hearts at MPD go out to all the families … This will have a long-lasting effect on the community.”

MPD has requested that Indiana State Police use their Accident Reconstruction Team to investigate the accident. Further information and updates will be released from ISP, which is handling the investigation.