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Investigators deem Tigard officer not at fault in house crash

A Tigard Police Officer who crashed his patrol car into a house in September was not at fault, according to a report released Wednesday by Washington County crash investigators.

The Washington County Crash Analysis Reconstruction Team investigated the Sept. 3 crash. The team is made up of officers from several Washington County law enforcement agencies, including the Tigard Police Department.

CART investigators determined that Officer Caleb Phillips, 34, a three-year veteran of the Tigard Police Department, was responding to an emergency call in the 11500 block of 135th Avenue when he crashed his squad car into a passenger car near the intersection of Walnut Street and Watkins Avenue. The car contained two people.

Phillips was driving to the scene with his lights and siren on at the time of the crash, police said.

According to Jim Wolf, Tigard Police spokesman, Phillips believed a motorist driving ahead of him would pull to the right shoulder, as is required by Oregon law, and attempted to pass the car on the left.

Instead the driver attempted to turn left onto Watkins Avenue as Phillips began to pass him, Wolf said.

The police cruiser struck the car mid-turn, sending the police car veering into a nearby house.

CART investigators determined that the crash was preventable, and that the driver of the other vehicle - identified as Clyde Allen Rizzutto, 65, of Tigard, was at fault.

No one in the home was injured in the crash. Phillips, Rizzutto and his passenger were taken to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center for treatment

Rizzutto will receive a citation.

'He did not yield to an emergency vehicle,' Wolf said. 'He turned left in front of officer as the officer was passing. That's the opposite of what motorists by law should do.'