MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has closed its investigation into a two-vehicle wreck caused by Spencer Collier, the former head of the agency and current Selma police chief.
In response to inquiries in recent weeks from the TimesDaily about the August 2017 crash, an ALEA spokeswoman said no charges were filed, and as is standard in this type of wreck, Collier was not ticketed.
"It was a basic traffic crash with minor injuries," Robyn Bryan said.
Collier was driving a city-owned vehicle.
An attorney for Collier said it’s likely he dozed off while driving home after a long shift.
“He doesn’t remember what happened. It wasn’t drugs. It wasn’t alcohol. The only other conclusion is that he nodded off,” Kenny Mendelsohn said. “There didn’t seem to be anything else.”
He said Collier has never denied the wreck was his fault.
A toxicology report from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences shows three prescription drugs — two anti-anxiety medications and a pain killer — in Collier's system. Collier has previously said he’d had multiple back surgeries after a 2013 on-duty car wreck.
Mendelsohn said the medications were not a factor in the crash. The information from the forensics department showed the medications in Collier’s system were within their “therapeutic range” for effectiveness.
Collier may be best known as the man who publicly accused former Gov. Robert Bentley of having an affair with a married staffer, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, more than two years ago after Bentley fired him from his position as head of ALEA.
He became Selma’s police chief last year.
Collier was traveling east toward Montgomery on U.S. 80 around 7:45 p.m. Aug. 14 when, according to the crash report, he ran off the road on the left, re-entered the roadway, overcorrected, “then began rotating in a counter clockwise motion as (the vehicle) left the roadway on the left, crossed the median and struck vehicle 2.”
According to the report, Collier stated he did not remember anything about the crash or events leading up to it.
He and the driver of the other vehicle were taken to a Montgomery hospital and a blood sample was taken from Collier.
Collier had a concussion, a broken collarbone and fractured part of a vertebra, Mendelsohn said. He’s representing Collier in an ongoing lawsuit against Bentley and others.
Mendelsohn said Collier couldn’t comment on the wreck because of a civil lawsuit against him and the city of Selma, filed by the driver of the vehicle he hit.
Collier had worked long hours that day and the day before, Mendelsohn said.
“He was tired after a long weekend of law enforcement work,” he said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 100,000 police-reported crashes are the result of driver fatigue each year, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries.
In 2016, Alabama lawmakers designated Nov. 19 Drowsy Driver Awareness Day. According to the resolution they passed, Alabama has no law requiring public education or punishing drowsy driving that results in accidents.
Montgomery District Attorney Daryl Bailey earlier this month said any charges in wrecks like Collier’s would originate with ALEA, not his office.
“Sometimes, accidents are just accidents, not criminal cases,” he said.
The Alabama Supreme Court earlier this month moved to allow Collier's 2016 lawsuit against Bentley and others to move forward.
Mendelsohn said he hopes to depose the former governor sometime next month.