A Canadian County deputy likely suffered a medical episode that caused a crash in February that claimed her life, officials said Monday.
Detective Brian Fowler, an investigator with the Oklahoma City Police Department, said Lt. Shirley Lanning may have suffered a stroke or a transient ischemic attack before the Feb. 14 accident on Northwest Expressway near Morgan Road.
Fowler said the fatal collision was not the first accident Lanning had been involved in on Feb. 14.
He said Lanning also struck the center median on the John Kilpatrick Turnpike near Broadway on her commute.
The autopsy report indicated that Lanning had no alcohol or drugs in her system. The official cause of death was blunt force trauma from the accident.
“That is what caused her death. That’s not the cause of the collision. Everything in our investigation led us to believe she suffered a medical episode that was so unique there were no indicators that she was aware of it,” Fowler said.
Oklahoma City police were able to track Lanning’s movements back to her home in Edmond, and there were indications that she was in trouble early, he said.
“She was suffering some difficulty that was causing her to have trouble controlling her car and she wasn’t aware of that,” Fowler said.
That includes colliding with the center median, as well as swerving while driving.
Fowler said a witness provided video of her swerving.
The investigation did look into whether Lanning might have been using her cellphone or texting.
Again, Fowler said, it was not in use.
In addition, the detective said there was a witness who said she might have been unconscious before the collision.
“Anytime a law enforcement vehicle is involved in an accident, you have to stop immediately and report it,” he said, explaining that Lanning did not do that when she hit the median.
That, he said, was unlike her.
“She’s not distracted, not under the influence and she’s not sleepy. … Something is going on and she is not aware of it,” he said.
Fowler said Lanning’s vehicle was traveling at 70 mph five seconds before it crossed the centerline and struck an SUV driven by Michael Cline of Piedmont.
Cline and his passenger were injured, but survived the crash.
The detective said the OKC PD investigated the crash thoroughly.
“We went a lot further in this investigation. When we work these cases, … we work for the family. We were working for her husband and her law enforcement family in Canadian County.
“Sometimes cops make mistakes, but that is not the case here,” Fowler said.