By ELISE FRANCO
Detective Sgt. Robert Deichman was driving his unmarked car on Salt Springs Road when it collided with a tractor-trailer.
YOUNGSTOWN — Great police officer, family man, dedicated, decent, fun, energetic, good person.
These words are used by colleagues as they remember Detective Sgt. Robert Deichman, a nine-year Youngstown police veteran who died in a traffic accident early Thursday.
“He was a good human being, a family man,” said Detective Donald Scott, who had known Deichman for 10 years and worked closely with him. “He will be sadly missed.”
The Youngstown Police Department and the Canfield Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol released information about Deichman, who was killed at about 3:20 a.m. in the 2750 block of Salt Springs Road, a light industrial area.
Deichman, 40, was on call and driving an unmarked police car when he collided with a tractor-trailer.
Police Chief Jimmy Hughes said Deichman, who worked in the accident investigation unit, was given the vehicle during off-duty hours in case he was called to the scene of a crash.
“He was a great guy — fun, energetic — I can’t say enough about him,” Hughes said. “I don’t say every officer is great. They’re all good, but he was great.”
Deichman joined the force in 1999 as a patrol officer. He was promoted in 2006 to detective sergeant and reassigned to the accident investigation unit, where he served until his death.
“His dedication to his job is why he was doing what he was doing,” Hughes said.
The truck driver, David Feliciano, 38, of Berlin Center, was pulling out of a private business driveway on the south side of Salt Springs Road when he entered the path of Deichman’s car, which was traveling east on Salt Springs Road, Hughes said.
Deichman was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page for the Youngstown Police Department, Deichman is the 13th officer to be killed in the line of duty; he is the second to die in an automobile accident.
No charges had been filed against Feliciano at press time.
Some questions have been asked about whether either driver was wearing a seat belt and if alcohol was involved. Toxicology tests will be run by the coroner, and Hughes said he will have no concrete answers until the investigation is completed.
“It’s fair to let the investigation play out,” Hughes said. “It’s not fair to see a bad guy in this accident. If there’s fault, it will come to the surface during the investigation.”
Mayor Jay Williams also offered his condolences to Deichman’s family.
“The family is first and foremost in our hearts and prayers,” he said. “And my condolences go out to the Youngstown Police Department and the community as well.”
Williams said the death of an officer is something everyone hopes never happens.
“It’s an understanding that they put their lives on the line day in and day out,” he said. “We don’t anticipate it, but we have to prepare for it.”
Hughes said that before informing the family of the accident, he had to think what he would want to hear if it were his family member.
“I asked, ‘How would I tell myself?’” he said. “It’s just as hard. It hits me just as hard. I’ve been on the force for 32 years, and this is not my first notification, but it’s never easy.
“The family is devastated ... they’re grieving.”
Deichman leaves behind his parents, wife and two daughters, who are 11 and 15. Family members could not be reached for comment.