by David Koon
April Kiser, public information officer for the Jacksonville Police Department, said the ongoing investigation into an accident last night which left a veteran Jacksonville fire captain dead and another firefighter and police officer critically injured, suggests the driver hit the three men deliberately.
Firefighters and officers were responding to an accident in which a car had hit a gas main in the 8400 block of Highway 161 when Bryce Allen — who is the son of the woman who hit the gas main — apparently swerved his van around an emergency vehicle blocking the road and then plowed into the three men.
"He drove around emergency vehicles and accelerated toward the officer and the firefighters," Kiser said, "and did not attempt to brake or swerve or go a different route."
Pulaski County Court records show that a man named Bryce Allen, Jr. was acquitted by reason of mental disease or defect in Jan. 2011 after being charged with battery, terroristic threatening and resisting arrest.
Jacksonville Fire Captain Donald Jones died at the scene. Firefighter/Engineer Jason Bowmaster and police officer Daniel DiMatteo were taken to area hospitals. Bowmaster is in critical condition, while DiMatteo is in stable condition.
Kiser said that Allen was not impaired by drugs or alcohol during the incident. Asked if the charges against Allen — second degree murder in the death of Capt. Jones, and two counts of criminal intent to commit second degree murder — mean that police suspect Allen ran over the men intentionally, Kiser answered "yes." She said that answer was based on the investigation so far, but said that police haven't determined a motive. "That would be part of the investigation," she said.
Kiser described Officer DiMatteo's injuries as "multiple," though she said he is speaking and coherent. "He has made it out of surgery," she said, "and he will more than likely have to go back into surgery later this week."