Warning: The video and details in this story may be disturbing to some.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A camera mounted outside a government building captured the crash where an on-duty Fort Wayne police officer hit and killed a pedestrian in downtown Fort Wayne in April.
WANE 15 is showing part of the video because there is an on-going investigation of a fatal crash involving a police officer.
The crash happened just before 7:30 p.m. on April 19 at the intersection of Calhoun and Main streets.
Driving a GMC Sierra pickup truck, Sgt. Joshua Hartup of the police department headed south on Calhoun and attempted to make a left turn onto Main by the Allen County Courthouse.
At the same time, local attorney Henry Najdeski was walking in the crosswalk and also heading south on Calhoun toward the courthouse.
Hartup’s pick-up truck hit Najdeski in the crosswalk while the pedestrian signal at the intersection was red and flashing with numbers, giving pedestrians a countdown of how much time they have to finish crossing the street, the video shows.
After striking Najdeski, Hartup’s Sierra came to a rest after continuing through the crosswalk.
Najdeski died days later in a hospital from injuries he suffered in the crash. The Allen County Coroner said the cause of his death was from multiple blunt force injuries due to the crash and ruled the death an accident.
The video provided to WANE 15’s 15 Finds Out by Allen County through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was sped up. WANE 15 slowed the video down to show the events unfold in real time. The security camera on the outside of the Rousseau Center across the street from the courthouse does not record fluid video. Instead it takes still images every second, which are then played out frame by frame.
This is an account of what the video shows at different time stamps:
7:25:00 – Video starts
7:25:29 – Henry Najdeski walks into frame on the sidewalk in the lower righthand corner
7:25:36 – The traffic light and crosswalk signal turn green
7:25:43 – The crosswalk signal starts to flash, the countdown to cross starts at 19 seconds
7:25:46 – Najdeski enters the crosswalk, the crosswalk signal countdown would be on 16 seconds
7:25:59 – Najdeski is about to be hit in the crosswalk, the signal countdown would be at 4 seconds
Indiana Code outlines the rules of right-of-way for pedestrians crossing in crosswalks.
IC 9-21-17-1 Traffic and pedestrian control signals
Sec. 1. (a) Pedestrians are subject to traffic and pedestrian control signals under this chapter.
(b) At all places that are not marked with pedestrian control signals, pedestrians are accorded the privileges and subject to the restrictions of this article.
[Pre-1991 Recodification Citation: 9-4-1-86(c); (d).]
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9.
IC 9-21-17-2 “Walk” and “don’t walk” signals
Sec. 2. Whenever special pedestrian control signals exhibiting the words “walk” or “don’t walk” are in place, the signals must indicate as follows:
(1) Flashing or steady “walk” means a pedestrian facing the signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and a person who drives a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian.
(2) Steady “don’t walk” means a pedestrian may not start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal. A pedestrian who has partially completed crossing on the “walk” signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the “don’t walk” signal is showing.
(3) Flashing “don’t walk” means a pedestrian may not start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal. A pedestrian who has already started to cross on the “walk” signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island. If a countdown pedestrian signal indication is also shown, a pedestrian may cross if the pedestrian is able to proceed to the sidewalk or safety island by the time the steady “don’t walk” signal is shown, and a person who drives a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian.
[Pre-1991 Recodification Citation: 9-4-1-36.]
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9. Amended by P.L.8-2010, SEC.8.
IC 9-21-17-3 Duty to obey traffic control device; exception
Sec. 3. A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of an official traffic control device specifically applicable to the pedestrian, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.
[Pre-1991 Recodification Citation: 9-4-1-86(a).]
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9.iga.in.gov
WANE 15 is stopping the video before impact occurred. After Najdeski was hit, the full video goes on to show Sgt. Hartup get out of his truck and start to give him medical aid.
WANE 15 also spoke with Najdeski’s wife on Tuesday and she directed us to her attorneys. They issued a statement on her behalf.
The family appreciates your continued thoughts, prayers and support during this very difficult time.Kevin Fitzharris & Samuel Talarico, Najdeski’s law partners
The Fatal Accident Crash Team took over the investigation and conducted a chemical test on Hartup. The crash was also reviewed by the Accident Review Board for any potential policy violations. Indiana State Police were also called in to look at the crash.
After receiving the crash video, WANE 15 reached out to the Fort Wayne Police Department with several questions. The department spokesman replied via email Tuesday saying, “The accident is still under investigation. Sgt. Hartup is driving a city owned vehicle.”
At the time of the crash, officers at the scene were unsure who had the right-of-way. Police later described the crash as a “slow, low-speed impact collision.”
WANE 15 took a video of an entire light cycle at the intersection where Najdeski was hit. Watch it in the video below.
It’s not clear how fast Hartup was driving when the crash happened. He was just beginning a shift in an unmarked vehicle with the vice and narcotics division.
Hartup later released the following statement:
“On Wednesday, April 19th 2023, I was on duty working as a Vice and Narcotics Supervisor/Sergeant. I left the POC parking garage to assist GVCU serve a warrant in SE Fort Wayne. I was southbound on Calhoun St in an unmarked city vehicle (no emergency equipment or computer) approaching Main St. with a green light. Traffic was clear (northbound Calhoun St) and I began my turn onto eastbound Main St. As I was completing my turn I struck a pedestrian. I immediately stopped my vehicle, grabbed my radio, and started aid to the pedestrian, and called dispatch to send medics.”
Hartup, who had been involved in four previous crashes during his roughly 24-year career, returned to duty the day after hitting Najdeski since no violations connected to the most recent crash were known. As of May 2, the police department confirmed Sgt. Hartup is still driving a city-owned vehicle.