Chattanooga, TN – Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger was killed in the line of duty by a hit-and-run driver on Saturday night.
Just after 11 p.m., Officer Galinger, 38, and his field training officer stopped along Hamill Road to inspect a manhole cover that had water flowing out of it, the Times Free Press reported.
While Officer Galinger was out in the roadway, a speeding Honda CR-V came flying down the street and crossed over the double-yellow center line, according to The State.
The vehicle crashed into a sign that warned drivers of the exposed manhole, then slammed into Officer Galinger.
The driver, later identified as 54-year-old Janet Hinds, fled the scene, leaving the gravely injured officer to die in the street, according to The State.
He was rushed to a local hospital, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
Police did not initially know that Hinds was responsible for the hit-and-run, but were aware that the suspect vehicle was a Honda CR-V.
The crash left the vehicle with heavy front-end damage, police said.
Investigators compiled a list of all the Honda CR-Vs with active registrations within the state of Tennessee, and asked for the public’s assistance in locating the damaged vehicle, WXIX reported.
Police located the heavily-damaged CR-V parked in the driveway of a residence on Port Drive at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, the according to the Times Free Press.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an alert identifying Hinds as a wanted suspect in connection with Officer Galinger’s death, and later added her to the state’s Top Ten Most Wanted list.
Hinds, who is employed as a postmaster at the Soddy-Daisy Post Office, turned herself in to Chattanooga police on Monday morning, The State reported.
She is being held on $300,000 for offenses of reckless driving, vehicular homicide, failure to report an accident, leaving the scene of an accident that caused death or personal injury, violation of traffic control device, failure to render aid, failure to exercise due care, speeding, and failure to maintain lane, according to WTVC.
"The department, this community lost not just an officer but a son, a father, a friend and a protector," Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy said during an emotional news conference on Monday morning.
Officer Galinger just graduated from the police academy in January, Chief Roddy added.
"Law enforcement is a dangerous career and those who heed the call to serve do so willingly and selflessly," Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
"Despite the dangers of the profession, each day men and women across our nation choose to don the uniform of their local law enforcement agencies to serve and protect,” Sheriff Hammond continued. “They leave their homes not knowing if they will return. In the case of last night's tragic incident, our community, our Nation, lost another brave public servant."
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke expressed his condolences for the loss of the rookie officer in a tweet on Sunday.
“We extend our sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of Officer Nicholas Galinger,” Berke said. “A life cut short in service to our community is a uniquely terrible loss. All Chattanoogans join with the members of the Police Department to mourn this tragic event.”
Officer Galinger is the father of two children, according to a fundraising campaign established to help his family in the wake of their loss.
He will be laid to rest on Friday, the New Richmond Police Department said in a Facebook post.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.