Pedestrian killed, officer injured, driver arrested in crash that closed Sterling bridge

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STERLING – A pedestrian is dead and an officer injured after a drunken driver struck both men on the First Avenue Bridge just south of Wallace Street early Sunday, police said.

Drew W. Barger, 35, of Sterling, who was was identified by Whiteside County Coroner Joe McDonald, was walking north down the middle of the bridge around 12:40 a.m., and Officer Travis Nease stopped and got out of his patrol car to check on him.

Before he could get much information, Nease was clipped by a northbound pickup truck that then struck the pedestrian and hit the viaduct, Deputy Chief Pat Bartel said.

Nease was treated at CGH Medical Center and released.

The Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office is handling the arrest of the driver, who is in Whiteside County jail on an initial charge of aggravated DUI, Sheriff John Booker said in an email.

The driver’s name will be released Monday morning, Booker said.

State Police are doing the crash reconstruction and investigation, Bartel said.

The bridge was closed from Second Street in Sterling to Second Street in Rock Falls until about 6:30 a.m.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.