It’s a small element, but reconstruction of the State Police role in the Bobby Petrino accident remains of interest, particularly related to Capt. Lance King’s actions.
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King was called to meet the car of an Ozark family that had picked up the injured Petrino in Madison County and completed his transport to a hospital. Who called him? Did he report the accident to his agency? Did he tell others at the UA of what he knew? King has a relationship with the UA athletic department because he serves as security escort for Petrino at football games. He could be expected to know Petrino’s companion, Jessica Dorrell, a recent football staff hire and former Razorback Foundation employee and UA volleyball player. Did King arrive at the pickup point before Dorrell left the scene in a car she had parked there, apparently the spot she met Petrino earlier for their ride? Did King know she was with Petrino? There’s been some confusing accounts on this point so far.
I’ve posed these questions and hope to provide elaboration before the day is out, as well as police agency records that provide some chronolgy of events Sunday.
I do know that a State Police dispatch call went out about 6:30 p.m., apparently based on a public report of the wreck. Trooper Josh Arnold responded, but it took him about 45 minutes to reach the scene because he was in a distant part of Madison County on another call. By then, Petrino and Dorrell were gone. He prepared the accident report that was released Thursday. The State Police account to date is that it became aware Tuesday from other police agencies that there were reports Petrino was not alone when the accident happened. The agency was silent until Thursday, however, as an investigation continued.
Jeff Long said at his 10 p.m. news conference last night that Petrino called him minutes before the announced 3:30 p.m. release of the report to say that he hadn’t told the complete truth in earlier accounts about the accident and he said they met further in person about 7:15 p.m. Observers say Long seemed genuinely pained about what he was reporting and found believable that he’d only just learned of the facts. Even if that’s so, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility that other athletic functionaries had been in the loop and might have worked on damage control. Why else would Petrino wait until the brink to fess up, for one thing? Why would the family that picked Petrino up declare flatly to a reporter that he was unaccompanied — and then clam up when challenged — when they’d also given a ride to Dorrell?
King, the Troop L commander based at Springdale, is having employees refer calls to him to State Police headquarters. I’ve asked my questions there.
I hope Long makes sure about the reach of every tentacle of this matter as he comes to a decision on further action. The university’s integrity is on the line this week. If it preserves Petrino’s job in the name of winning football games (a task made somewhat more difficult at least on the recruiting end by Petrino’s actions), it will be preserving the job of man whose name has become a synonym for serial dishonesty in the Urban Dictionary based on past actions at Louisville and Atlanta.
UPDATE: Interesting scrap here from State Police radio log. It shows, at 6:36 p.m. Sunday, a 911 report of the wreck near Crosses and a report that a “male & female” got into another vehicle, a white SUV, and it was heading to a hospital. It noted crashed cycle registered to “a Bobby Petrino.”