HPD officer killed in rollover wreck

HOUSTON Officer Eydelmen Mani lost control of his cruiser on the North Freeway near Troy. Some in the area say they've seen accidents happen there before.

The police car hit the guardrail at such high speed and force, it flipped over, landing right side up and trapping Officer Eydelmen Mani inside. It happened just before midnight. Emergency workers rushed to free Mani from the wreckage by cutting away the metal. However it wasn't enough to save him from severe internal injuries.

Officer Mani died Wednesday morning at Memorial Hermann Hospital at the Medical Center. His co-workers, devastated by the death, drove to the hospital. Officer Mani, 30, is remembered as a dedicated police officer and father.

"Mani was the kind officer that sat at the back of the roll call room and quietly went about conducting his business," recalled Captain Victor Rodriguez with the Houston Police Department. "He didn't say a whole lot, but all the officers knew he was an officer you could depend on."

Mani was on his way to back up an officer making a felony arrest. Mani's car slamming into the guardrail woke up neighbors.

"He wasn't talking," said neighbor Leslie Vaughn. "A lot of people were trying to talk to him to keep him conscious but it never seemed like he regained consciousness."

Vaughn says this stretch of the North Freeway feeder is especially treacherous.

"There's several accidents at this section right here, mainly people trying to speed up to get on the freeway at that exit," he said.

Authorities say they don't know how the accident happened. It's under investigation.

Flags have been lowered as a sign of respect for Officer Mani at the North Patrol Substation where he worked.

"A young officer had a wife and a small child," said Houston Police Union President Gary Blankinship. "It's just a real loss to the police department and a loss to the citizens of this city."

Mani had been with HPD since May 2003. He is survived by his wife and three-year-old son.

Mayor Annise Parker released the following statement: "My sincere condolences go out to Officer Mani's family for their tragic loss today. He fought for his life for many hours since very early this morning, and knew he had the support of the entire Houston police force behind him. His perseverance to protect and serve for the greater good of the entire Houston community will be remembered by us all. May he now rest in peace."

From 9am to 3pm Thursday, Houston Police Department North Patrol Division officers and the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center will host a blood drive on behalf of Officer Mani. The blood drive will be held in the second floor training room at the HPD North Patrol Station at 9455 West Montgomery Road.

The public is invited to come to donate blood in Officer Mani's memory.

Donations to assist Officer Mani's family can be made to the 100 Club.

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