Glenpool, OK – A McAlester police officer is fighting for his life after a driver crashed into him head-on while he was participating in a funeral procession for a fellow officer on Friday night.
The incident occurred as officers were escorting the body of fallen McAlester Police Department (MPD) Captain Richard Parker from Tulsa to Wetumka on March 17, KOKI reported.
Capt. Parker died unexpectedly on March 16 after serving the MPD for nearly 26 years, the department said in a press release.
The procession was traveling on Highway 75 in Glenpool when a pickup truck crossed over the center median and slammed into 25-year-old MPD Officer Joseph Barlow’s patrol vehicle head-on, according to KOCO.
The driver of the pickup has been identified as 39-year-old Martin Rivas Rodriguez, KOKI reported.
Rodriguez was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on multiple charges, including no driver’s license, reckless driving, and causing an accident, according to police.
He was also placed on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immigration hold, KOKI reported.
Officer Barlow was rushed to a Tulsa hospital in critical condition and has already undergone multiple emergency surgeries, according to KJRH.
McAlester Police asking for a miracle for injured officer.
Prayers for Officer Joseph Barlow, in critical condition after a head-on collision 🙏
— PXP Security & Inves (@PXPSecurityInve) March 20, 2023
Officials said he is fighting for his life, KFOR reported.
MPD Officer Colby Barnett told KRJH that Officer Barlow “needs some prayers big time.”
“This isn’t fair in all honesty,” Officer Barnett said. “The kid had a heart of gold and we need a miracle.”
Dozens of community members and first responders gathered on the steps of the MPD on Saturday to pray for the injured officer, KRJH reported.
First responders and the public are starting to gather outside the McAlester Police Department this afternoon to pray for an officer in critical condition.
Officer Joseph Barlow remains in critical condition following a head-on collision in Glenpool. pic.twitter.com/mGDAF6gS5V
— Derrick James (@dljames0001) March 18, 2023
Officer Barlow’s family released a statement expressing their thankfulness for the support they have received from their community, according to KFOR.
“As a family, we are completely devastated with the events that have occurred on March 17th surrounding the automobile collision that occurred on while the McAlester Police Department and other Law Enforcement Agencies in the State were escorting our fallen brother Captain Richard Parker home,” the Barlow family said.
“Our family would like to express our thanks to the Glenpool Police Department, the Glenpool Fire Department, The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and EMSA for their quick response to this tragic collision,” the family continued. “We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to all the staff at St. John Medical Center for their care that they have provided to Officer Barlow. We would also like to express our gratitude to all the law enforcement agencies who came to our aide and provided various services, there are just too numerous to mention.”
Just one week prior to the crash, Officer Barlow had been cleared to return to duty after the fatal officer-involved shooting death of James Klembara on Jan. 14, the McAlester News-Capital reported.
Officers responded to the 1900-block of Green Meadows that day after receiving a 911 call that Klembara was “having a mental breakdown” and that he was possibly armed, according to police.
Bodycam footage showed the officers attempting to speak with Klembara at his front door just before the suspect told them to back off and brandished a rifle, the McAlester News-Capital reported.
The officers drew their weapons and ordered the suspect to put his gun down, at which point Klembara fired a round off into the floor of his home.
Police continued to order him to drop his weapon, issuing 34 commands over a span of one minute and 43 seconds, the McAlester News-Capital reported.
Klembara refused to comply and raised the rifle towards the officers, who responded by opening fire on him through the screen door.
The suspect was later pronounced dead at McAlester Regional Health Center, the McAlester News-Capital reported.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma determined on March 10 that Officer Barlow’s use of force was justified.
MPD Chief Kevin Hearod said on March 10 that his was happy to have the young officer “back on the job,” according to the McAlester News-Capital.