WILLOUGHBY, Ohio - Dash cam video released Thursday by Willoughby Police shows what happened Friday night Sept. 21 when Willoughby Police Officer Jason Gresko died in a car crash responding to a call for help.
Some viewers might find the video difficult to watch, but police said the video is important evidence in the crash investigation.
Police also said the dash cam video shows Gresko taking evasive action that possibly saved lives.
Officer Gresko was responding to a call for a combative person at the hospital. The video shows officer Gresko slowing down at a stop sign on Harmony Lane and turning on his emergency lights. No siren was on but police said that was within policy.
Headlights from a pickup truck are seen approaching from down the street and the pickup appears to be yielding to the cruiser.
But suddenly the driver of the truck pulls right in front of the police car. Gresko swerved to avoid hitting the truck head-on and slammed into a tree.
Gresko was killed in the crash.
Police said the pickup truck had two adults and two 13-year-olds inside, and officer Gresko's actions saved lives. The driver of the pick up was turning into the driver to drop off one of the 13 year olds.
Police said Gresko was wearing his seatbelt.
Any day now, police expect to get the results from toxicology tests of blood and urine samples from the driver of the pickup truck, which is standard operating procedure in a deadly crash.
After the dash cam video was released Thursday Willoughby Police Lieutenant Tom Trem said "Watching the (pick up) vehicle, the action officer Gresko took likely saved serious injury to those occupants of that other vehicle unfortunately at the cost of his own life," Trem said.
"Certainly (the dash cam video) is a significant help because we see what happened but again the hard part now is trying to put some answers to what we see," Trem said.
Inside the Willoughby Police Department the walls are covered with cards of support including many heartfelt cards from Willoughby school kids like the one that reads "Dear officer, thank you for risking your life for citizens and me. Thank you for keeping our town safe."
"The support from all over the world has been overwhelming especially the ones from young children at our neighborhood schools have been very heartwarming"
Gresko was also a full time police officer for the Cleveland Clinic Police Department.
A fund for officer Gresko's family has been set up at local Huntington Bank locations.