NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Tragedy hit the ranks of the New Orleans Police Department again on Friday.
Officer Tony Mitchell, 45, a 19 year veteran of the force was killed in a bizarre accident.
"He was pronounced dead at the scene, yes," said Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich. "It's just extremely tragic, and so these things come us at us very hard, we take it hard."
State Police said Friday that Mitchell was having mechanical problems, exited his truck and began flagging oncoming traffic away from his vehicle. Another driver in a Honda saw him and stopped in the left lane and was preparing to enter the center lane, but was hit by a Chrysler.
"Which pushed that car into Officer Tony Mitchell, sort of dragged his body along the side and Officer Mitchell was thrown over the elevated portion of the West Bank Expressway, where he fell some feet before and landed on the lower portion of the West Bank Expressway," said NOPD Chief Michael Harrison as he spoke to news media outside NOPD headquarters just before noon.
State Police believe the speed of the Chrysler was a factor in the crash. The investigation is ongoing, and a press release said criminal charges are pending.
Harrison spoke to Mitchell's wife at the scene.
"As I told his wife this morning they're part of a bigger family," Harrison said. "We are his family also, and he was our family and so we will be with them during this tough time."
"I remember him as being a nice person, friendly, help anyone he can, did what he could for the neighborhood, he was a great guy, all around and it's a tragedy that this had to happen to him," said Anthony Davis, who lives in the neighborhood where Mitchell's mother had lived.
This is not the first-time this year that the ranks of the NOPD have been hit by sudden death.
"It's just extremely sad that we're here again," Harrison said.
Mitchell was the third officer lost this year.
"We will do everything that we can to strengthen and uphold each other," said Harrison.
Chief Harrison said Officer Mitchell was well-spoken of, not only by colleagues but the people he served as part of the Eighth Police District, which includes the French Quarter.
"I've met him many times. He's always been very professional, always had a smile," said Harrison.
While police speed was a factor in the deadly crash, driver impairment is not suspected.
The family of Officer Mitchell has set up a gofundme account. For more information, click here.