COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - An undercover officer with the Metro Narcotics Task Force has died after a fatal car crash on North Veterans Parkway in Columbus.
Local law enforcement officials, and Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan, confirm that 53-year-old Corporal Thomas Keith Slay, known as Keith, was heading to provide back-up to a meth lab operation in the Flat Rock area when a driver merged into his vehicle.
Columbus police say while they were in pursuit, a car pulled out in front of the officers. They swerved to miss the car, running off the road and smashing into a utility pole.
The accident took place across the street from B. Merrell's restaurant on Veterans Parkway.
No charges have been filed against the 73-year-old driver of the second vehicle.
Agent Slay was a 32 year veteran of the Columbus, Georgia Police Department.
Another officer, Russell County Sheriff's Deputy Brad Evans with the Metro Narcotics Task Force, was also in the vehicle with Slay and is listed in critical condition in the ICU at the Medical Center.
"I was in there working until about 3:15, I heard a big boom," said Alan Brown, who works next door at a car repair shop. "I looked outside and I just seen the poles go over and a cloud of dust."
That's when Brown went outside to find this scene at Veterans Parkway across from B. Merrells: a mangled undercover police vehicle with two officers in desperate need of help inside.
"We were waiting for the ambulance because we didn't want to hurt anybody because they were seriously injured," said Brown.
Still in shock, Brown says it's not just drivers but this busy stretch of Veterans that seemingly has a mind of its own.
"The road right here is crazy anything can happen, where your seat belt, always pay attention...anything can happen," Brown said.
Police are still investigating this case. We did speak to Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor, who asks that all local communities band together for the families who lost a loved one or had a loved one injured in Tuesday's tragic accident.
Meanwhile, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson had this to say about Corporal Slay's death:
"Corporal Slay was much loved by his fellow officers," said Mayor Tomlinson. "He was serving this community to the end. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time. We continue to pray also for the Russell County deputy who was injured and wish him a speedy recovery."
The Columbus Police Department also sent us this press release Tuesday night:
It is with great sorrow that the Columbus, Georgia Police Department acknowledges that Corporal Thomas Keith Slay, 53 years of age, died this afternoon in the line of duty. Corporal Slay was a 32-year veteran with the Columbus Police Department where he was a Special Agent assigned to the Metro Narcotics Task Force.
At approximately 3:00 p.m. Corporal Slay was responding, while running full emergency equipment, to a request for assistance from another unit. His vehicle was headed north bound on Veterans Parkway and collided with another vehicle. Corporal Slay was pronounced dead at the Columbus Regional Medical Center. Special Agent Brad Evans of the Russell County, Alabama Sheriff's Department, and also assigned to the Metro Narcotics Task Force, was injured in the collision. Evans is listed in critical condition at the Medical Center.
The Motor Squad of the Columbus Police Department is investigating the incident.
"Obviously, this is a devastating time for the families of those lost and injured and for the brethren of officers that served with these men," said Columbus Chief of Police Ricky Boren. "We ask the entire community to lift Special Agents Slay and Evans up in prayer, as well as their families. We are talking about true public servants and law enforcement officers and this is just devastating to us all."