JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An officer responding to a suicide attempt early Tuesday morning was involved in a crash that killed a motorcyclist, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
JSO Chief Annie Smith said two officers were heading westbound on Wilson Boulevard about 3:15 a.m. with their lights and sirens activated. Midday Tuesday, police identified the victim as 56-year-old Ray Bullard (pictured, below)
"The information that we received from the witness officer that was traveling behind the involved officer about a quarter of a mile behind did indicate that both had their emergency lights and sirens activated at the time," Smith said.
She said investigators will be able to gather more information from the black boxes in the police cars the capture those details.
"That will all be determined later once we pull the information from the vehicle," Smith said. "That determines what exactly, what was on, what was off when the brakes were applied, the speed and all that information."
IMAGES: Motorcycle vs. police cruiser
Smith said Officer J.T. Kramarsic's cruiser slowed as it traveled through the intersection at Jammes Road when the southbound motorcycle struck the rear passenger side of the police car.
Bullard died at the scene. Kramarsic was taken to UF Health Jacksonville unconscious, but his injuries were later said to be not serious.
The intersection was closed while the investigation was ongoing.
Smith said she was unsure whether the officer had a red or green light when the police cruiser entered the intersection.
She said the motorcyclist was being followed by another motorcycle at the time of the crash and that there were a couple of witnesses. The witnesses were being questioned by investigators at the scene, and Smith said investigators were getting conflicting information from them about the traffic lights.
Police are also investigating if alcohol was a factor in this crash.
Bullard's daughter, Annie Bullard, said she heard about the crash on the news and was devastated to find out her father had died.
"On the news, I woke up this morning and prayed to God it wasn't my dad because he always comes this way at night. He was going home," she said.
Family members said Bullard owned two businesses, including a bar on Jammes and San Juan Avenue, less than a mile from the crash site, and he was heading home after getting off from work there.
The bar was closed Tuesday, with a sign that read "In memory of Ray Bullard. Rest in peace."
Annie said her father, who had six children, rode motorcycles for as long as she could remember and said he was always safe on the bike.
"He was a good man. He was a safe motorcycle rider," Annie said. "He wouldn't harm nobody when they're on bikes. People have to watch for motorcyclists, for real. Literally. They have to look out for motorcyclists."
Annie said the police officers may have been in the wrong.
"They didn't do their job right," she said. "When they go up there and they go to an intersection, they're supposed to have what on? They had their lights on. They didn't have their sirens on. I have witnesses that seen they didn't have their sirens on."
Warren Minton said he was Bullard's best friend and knew him for years. He said Annie called him when she found out her father had died in the crash.
"We were close. Very close. Closer than most anybody I know," he said. "We went on a lot of rides together. He was a good man. That's about all I can say."
Johnnie Lee Bullard said he was heartbroken to learn that his brother had died in the crash.
"We weren't very close when he was alive. Now that he's passed away, I miss him," he said. "He was great. He looked out for everybody. He'd give you the shirt off his back if you needed it."
Johnnie Lee Bullard said his the family is now preparing for Ray's funeral. He says he wants to get to the bottom about exactly what happened with the crash, but for now, what matters is honoring his brother.
"I have to go on for him and for myself, too," he said. "I know if I ever have any situations with a living person, I will speak to them again and let them know before they die that I love them."
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