Crime

Lexington newlyweds miss honeymoon to recover from crash

Amy Snider was supposed to be at her wedding reception Saturday, celebrating her marriage to Joe Snider with family and friends. Instead, she was in a hospital with two broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung.

Her wedding dress — a flowing white gown with a lavender sash that matched her bridesmaids' dresses — had to be cut off of her by nurses.

"They tried to stay on the seams while they were cutting," she said, but she doesn't know whether the dress is salvageable.

After taking bridal-party photos after the ceremony, the newlyweds had just left St. John's Lutheran Church on Pasadena Drive when a police cruiser, driven by Officer Justin Rowland, ran a red light and crashed into their car on Nicholasville Road.

The impact sent Amy Snider tumbling from the back seat of her father's Chrysler Sebring convertible. Joe Snider was on the passenger side, where the cruiser struck.

The weary-sounding groom, talking Monday from his hospital bed at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, said he doesn't remember much from the crash. Just before the impact, he said, he turned and saw the police car approaching "fairly fast."

Police said Rowland tried to stop when he saw the convertible, but Hopkinsville wedding photographer Twila Murasaki, who was in a van behind the convertible, said it didn't look as if he hit the brakes at all.

"There was no slowing down, no screeching of tires and no swerving. It was a direct hit," she said. "The only thing I heard was the crunch."

Said Joe Snider: "The next thing I know, I turned around, and Amy was not sitting with me any more. I looked for her and saw her trying to stand up on the pavement."

He tried to get out to help his wife, but his legs were pinned by the front seat. Then he noticed he was having trouble breathing. Like his wife, he suffered broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

The convertible was being driven by Amy Snider's brother Rodney Prothe, who was released from the hospital Saturday. She said he had minor injuries and was back in Iowa, her family's home state, on Monday. The Sniders will live in Lexington, where they recently bought a house.

The police officer's injuries were minor, and he was on active duty Monday, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

Police have said Rowland did not have his lights and sirens activated when he ran the red light at Nicholasville and Pasadena, colliding with the convertible.

Under police policy, officers are permitted to respond to low-priority calls without using lights and sirens. The officer was on the way to a report of child abuse, which is typically high priority, Lt. Chris Van Brackel said Saturday night.

However, police said Rowland was not using lights and sirens because of the unusual nature of the report — someone had called police about two juveniles selling cookies at Regency Shopping Center. The caller said the kids had said their uncle was forcing them to sell cookies and planned to take the money from them.

Roberts said the police's collision reconstruction unit was investigating the crash, and until that investigation was finished, she couldn't say much else. An internal investigation could follow the reconstruction unit's investigation, depending on the findings, she said.

Joe Snider said police contacted him for a brief interview Saturday, when they assured him that "an extensive investigation" would follow. Officers came to the hospital and asked him typical questions, such as where they had been headed and whether they had been wearing seat belts. The interview lasted about five minutes, he said.

The painful wreck punctuated a difficult week for the newlyweds. Some family members and friends who attended the wedding had gathered earlier in the week for a funeral: Amy's father, Loren Prothe, 72, died after a monthslong battle with cancer. The Army veteran's funeral was Wednesday.

The couple originally had planned to marry on Sept. 10, Joe Snider said. The numerology of the date — 9/10/11 — would have made it easy to remember.

But the wedding was rescheduled after doctors told them Prothe had just months to live.

"We had tried to move the wedding day up so he could see it," Joe Snider said. "But he didn't make it."

The groom lost his father, James Snider, in January. He died of respiratory failure.

That was why the bride and groom were looking forward to their honeymoon, which was scheduled for this week in Cape May, N.J.

Amy Snider was released from the hospital Sunday, and she said she was hopeful her husband would be released Tuesday. Right now, they are focusing on recovery rather than rescheduling their honeymoon, she said.

The couple met through a social networking Web site about three years ago, they said. Joe Snider proposed to her in 2009 by hiding a ring in a geocache at McConnell Springs. Geocaching is a treasure-hunting game in which participants use global positioning systems to find things hidden by other players.

"I had an idea that it was coming," Amy Snider said. "He's not very good at keeping secrets."

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