A Utah Highway Patrol trooper survived a close call Friday after he lost control of his vehicle and crashed while trying to chase down a speeding bullet bike.
Senior Trooper Jeff Bigler, a veteran officer with more than 25 years under his belt, was heading west toward Cedar City on U-41, near Zion's Outlook, about 12:30 p.m. when he noticed a bullet bike traveling over the speed limit in the opposite lane, said UHP Sgt. Sheldon Riches.
He said witnesses reported seeing the biker exhibit reckless behavior even before the officer initiated pursuit.
The trooper made a U-turn to follow the bike but was unable to keep up and lost control on a tight curve and rolled "a number of times," Riches said.
Extrication was required to remove Bigler from the crumpled Crown Victoria. He was taken by medical helicopter to Valley View Medical Center in Cedar City, where he was stabilized and then transferred to LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.
The impact crushed three vertebrae in Bigler's spine, but he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the force, Riches said.
"He doesn't remember much of what happened after taking off after the bike," Riches said. "His short-term memory was affected."
Excessive speeds and a considerable head start allowed the biker to make an escape, but Riches said bullet bikes, however quick and maneuverable, can't always outrun a common squad car.
"He was well ahead of the patrol car from the get go," he said.
Iron County sheriff's deputies are investigating the accident and are looking for the biker. Footage from the dashboard camera of the wrecked squad car is expected to become available sometime today.