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Officer Kills Himself After Crash

October 19, 1997

ACTON, Calif. (AP) _ A Los Angeles policeman shot himself to death as officers arrived to question him about a hit-and-run accident that seriously injured a woman and her 10-month-old daughter.

Authorities tracked a Ford Bronco that was spotted leaving the scene of the accident to Officer Bryce Wicks, a 28-year veteran and an expert in fingerprinting.

Wicks, 54, committed suicide Friday as investigators arrived at the door of his home in rural Acton, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

``I would have preferred for him to turn himself in and just face the charges,″ said Sergio Mercado, brother of the injured woman. ``Clearly he felt too guilty.″

Police Chief Bernard Parks said investigators learned Wicks was in a bleak mood after the accident.

About 8 p.m. Thursday, Juanita Mercado, 23, was wheeling 10-month-old Leslie De La Cruz in a stroller across a street in the Sun Valley area about 20 miles northwest of downtown.

The Bronco clipped Ms. Mercado, and the stroller became latched to its bumper, authorities said. The vehicle dragged the stroller a block until it became unhitched during a turn, spilling the baby into the street.

The toddler, who suffered second- and third-degree burns on 30 percent of her body, was awaiting plastic surgery.

Ms. Mercado suffered a broken leg and collarbone, and remained in critical condition Saturday.

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