NASHVILLE — A Metro Nashville police officer died in a crash early Thursday morning after his cruiser was struck by a teen driver.
The Tennessean reported that Officer John Anderson was responding to assist another officer around 3:05 a.m. when a Ford Fusion hit the driver's side of his cruiser with enough force to push it into a nearby utility pole. The cruiser then caught fire.
The Fusion's driver was 17-year-old Jayona Brown, who was treated for minor injuries before she was booked into juvenile detention on charges that include vehicular homicide. Her 18-year-old female passenger was being treated for life-threating injuries.
The 28-year-old Anderson was a four-year veteran of the force. He was also a member of the Drill and Ceremony Team, often tasked with honoring fallen officers throughout Middle Tennessee.
Anderson was a 2013 graduate of Western Kentucky University, where he served as a Student Police Explorer with the WKU Police Department. He also worked as a park ranger with Bowling Green Parks and Recreation while attending WKU, according to information on his LinkedIn page.
On Thursday, the WKUPD posted on Twitter about Anderson, mentioning his past service with the agency and saying their "thoughts and prayers go out to" his family and the Metro Nashville police.
Nashville Mayor David Briley said in a statement that Anderson's death was a reminder of the sacrifices first responders make every day.
"Officer Anderson pledged his life to serve and protect us — a solemn duty that we can sometimes take for granted," Briley said. "His death today is a stark reminder of that pledge, and his service to our city will be forever remembered."
Briley and Police Chief Steve Anderson, no relation to the officer, said they would hold a moment of silence for Officer Anderson during the city's Fourth of July festivities.
In a statement Chief Anderson said the officer's death was a very tragic way to begin the holiday.
"It goes without saying that when we lose an officer ... it's like losing a brother or sister," he said.
– The Daily News' Justin Story contributed information to this report.