DeKalb officer killed in crash with alleged wrong-way driver

Officer Kevin Toatley (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Officer Kevin Toatley (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Witnesses were able to pull Officer Kevin Toatley from his burning patrol car after it was hit by a wrong-way driver early Saturday, officials said — but their efforts weren’t enough to save him.

Toatley, an eight-year veteran of the DeKalb County Police Department, was later pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital.

“He was admired by all those who worked with him and was admired by supervisors,” Dr. Cedric Alexander, DeKalb County’s director of public safety, told Channel 2 Action News. “… I’ve had a chance to talk with many of them tonight and try to help comfort them.”

According to Fulton County police spokeswoman Cpl. Kay Lester, Toatley was driving westbound on South Fulton Parkway at about 12:30 a.m. when he was head-on near the Buffington Road exit. The red SUV that struck him was driving in the wrong direction, Lester said.

Toatley’s car burst into flames.

Five people — three adults and two juveniles — were in the wrong-way vehicle, Lester said, and all of them were taken to local hospitals. One woman was in critical condition.

Their identities were not released.

Lester said the crash remains under investigation.

“No charges have been filed at this time,” she said.

DeKalb County police spokesman Capt. S.R. Fore said Toatley was hired by the department in Jan. 2007. The crash that claimed his life came several hours after another DeKalb County officer, Marco Vizcarrando, was wounded during a shootout outside a Tucker-area gas station.

On Facebook, DeKalb-based United States Rep. Hank Johnson wrote that his thoughts and prayers were with Toatley’s “family, friends and law enforcement family.” The DeKalb Fraternal Order of Police called Toatley’s death “very sad news.”

“Our condolences to Officer Toatley’s family, both blood and blue,” the group wrote early Saturday.