Last Friday, Cahokia Mayor Frank Bergman
rear-ended another driver in St. Charles. His $38,000 SUV, which is paid for by the village, was badly damaged but perhaps not as bad as Bergman's reputation after a reporter apparently caught him fibbing about what caused the accident and what happened at the scene afterward.
On Tuesday, Bergman told Beth Hundsdorfer of the Belleville News-Democrat
that the car in front of him made a sudden left turn, causing him to smash into a minivan that was stopped in the roadway. The mayor also said firefighters had to cut him from his 2008 GMC Arcadia with the Jaws of Life and that his car caught fire after the accident.
Sounds pretty harrowing, except for the fact that two eye witnesses say Bergman's story is mostly false.
Via Hundsdorfer and the BND
Mike Jones said Bergman ran into the back of his 2010 Chrysler Town and Country minivan that was stopped to make a left turn. Jones said that he didn't see Bergman coming and the impact of the collision drove his car 30 to 40 feet on Muegge Road near Hampton Place Court, just north of the Missouri 94-Missouri 364 interchange.
"I was just sitting there in shock," Jones said. "He seemed pretty shook up, and he came over and said he was sorry, then got on his cell phone."
That's strike one. Here's strike two:
[Becki] Breeze told police that Bergman appeared distracted when he drove his 2008 GMC Acadia into the rear of Jones' minivan waiting to make a left turn...
...Breeze told police that Bergman was driving erratically, "swerving in the lane and appeared to be not paying attention with his cell phone and looking around on the floorboard."
Bergman, however, maintains his phone was on the passenger seat and that "there was a bag of raisins in his lap." He was, however, taken to the hospital and treated for injuries to his arms and leg.
Whatever the case, Bergman didn't immediately report the accident to the city he represents -- a big no-no according to the Cahokia's Board of Trustees. Because he was using the car for personal matter -- which is kosher, according to city policy -- Cahokia might not have to cover the insurance costs to replace the SUV, which is being leased for $24,000. Bergman says he won't file a workman's comp claim. He earns an annual salary of $40,000, plus the ride.