One deputy killed, one injured in crash in Manvel

June 27, 2011 3:44:41 PM PDT
A Brazoria County sheriff's deputy was killed in the line of duty after a crash with a pickup truck in Manvel Sunday night. His partner and two other people were seriously hurt in the same wreck. The Department of Public Safety says at a minimum, the driver of the pickup truck will be cited for failure to yield. Investigators say it's too early to know whether that driver will face additional criminal charges for causing the wreck that ended with the deputy's death.

It happened on Highway 6 at FM 1128 in Manvel. Small pieces of debris on the roadway are a few of the only signs of the tragedy that occurred. One driver with whome we spoke heard the impact.

"It was real loud and horrible," said the eyewitness.

Investigators say 27-year-old Charles Van Meter had just finished his shift. He was riding with his partner in a marked patrol unit around 10:30pm, westbound on Highway 6 to be dropped off at his personal vehicle. That's when, according to DPS, a truck headed eastbound made a sharp left right in front of them. Van Meter died at the scene.

Brazoria County Sheriff Charles Wagner says Van Meter was a veteran deputy, who started in 2006 and has been on patrol for the past two years. Sheriff Wagner says Van Meter just turned 27 on Friday, and that he worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday and had plans to go out with his girlfriend after his shift last night.

"He was friends with everybody here. Everybody loved him," said Sheriff Wagner.

Neighbors, even those who didn't know Van Meter well, say he will be missed.

"I mean, that's horrible. You hear about this all the time that people aren't paying attention," said neighbor Helen Guerrero.

The other deputy injured, Deputy Josh Waldrop, who was driving the patrol car, is in good condition at the hospital.

At last report, a passenger in the truck was in critical condition as was the driver of the pickup -- 18-year-old Chance Chambers of Rosharon. A blood test is being conducted to determine if there were drugs or alcohol in his system.

The 100 Club is providing money to Deputy Van Meter's family, as it does any time a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty. You can always make a donation or become a member of the 100 Club. It also helps families of firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Earlier Monday

There is some good news. After being transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital via LifeFlight in critical condition, the surviving deputy, Joshua Waldrop, 26, has improved and could be released as early as today.

Waldrop is going through both physical and emotional pain after losing his partner and close friend, Deputy Charles Van Meter, 27, who was the passenger in their patrol car when the crash happened.

Texas Department of Public Safety troopers say the pickup truck with two people inside made a left-hand turn into a Chevron gas station directly in front of their patrol car which was traveling at around 60 miles per hour. Investigators say it was so sudden that Deputy Waldrop, who was driving, never used the brake because he had no warning that the truck was going to turn.

The car T-boned the pickup truck. Both people inside the truck were transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital via LifeFlight, along with Deputy Waldrop.

Deputy Van Meter was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been with the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office since 2006. The sheriff calls his death a huge loss.

"He was a friend of everybody here because he'd worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday," said Brazoria County Sheriff Charles Wagner.

Late Monday morning, we learned the names of the occupants of the pickup truck. The driver is 18-year-old Chance Chambers, of Rosharon, and the passenger, 17-year-old Jarvis Harris. Both were listed in critical condition. Deputy Waldrop is listed in good condition.

Deputy Van Meter grew up in Pearland and friends here say it was his life-long dream to become a deputy.

As for the investigation, DPS says blood was drawn from the pickup truck driver, but toxicology reports are not back yet.

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