BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – A Metro police officer was killed on Interstate 65 North in Brentwood Saturday morning.
The officer, 25-year-old Michael Petrina, was assisting a Tennessee Department of Transportation help truck operator with an accident at the Old Hickory Boulevard exit when he was struck by a motorhome carrying a trailer.
Petrina became trapped under the trailer and died at the scene. The TDOT worker was not injured.
Northbound I-65 from Concord Road to Old Hickory Boulevard was shut down for several hours after the accident.
Dean Diver, the 71-year-old motorhome driver, told police he could not change lanes because of traffic. He stated he was trying to drive in between the TDOT truck and the officer’s cruiser.
He told ABC affiliate WTVG in Toledo, Ohio, “I did what I could. I made a mistake, and I am trying to get through this. It’s a hard time for everyone involved.”
Charges weren’t immediately filed against Diver, but the accident remains under investigation.
Petrina, who was from Memphis, was a lieutenant in the Tennessee Army National Guard. He was also a 2013 graduate of the Metro Nashville Police Department Academy.
Upon graduation, he was chosen by his class to receive the Christy Dedman Spirit Award.
The honor is named after Officer Christy Dedman, the last Metro officer killed in the line of duty in 2004.
Petrina leaves behind his brother, Anthony, his father, Jim, and mother, Joyce.
Just last month, after Petrina lost a colleague, he marked his loss on Facebook with his badge and black mourning band as his profile picture.
Below it, his mom commented, “Please continue to hold him in your prayers… I put him to bed every night with my prayers that he will stay safe, do good work and create happiness in his life.”
News 2 spoke with Petrina’s family, who told us “he died doing what he loved.”
In a statement, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said, “Michael wanted to dedicate his life to public service, and we are fortunate he chose to serve in Nashville. In his short career with Metro police, Michael’s positive attitude and encouraging nature earned him the admiration of his graduating class, as evidenced by the Christy Dedman Spirit Award they bestowed on him last year. On behalf of the entire city, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Michael’s family, friends and fellow officers. We thank them for sharing such a wonderful young man with us. This loss is a tragedy for our Police Department and our entire city.”
Metro police will escort Petrina’s remains back to Memphis, where he will be laid to rest.
Petrina’s funeral will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Germantown, Tennessee.
Visitation with the family will be held Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Memorial Funeral Home in Memphis.