Injured 35th District police officer is ‘an outstanding young man who gives back to the community’

Officers with the city’s 35th Police District will be watching over the streets and one Hahnemann University Hospital bed this week.

Officer Milan Merke was rushed to the Center City hospital on Friday evening following a harrowing motorcycle crash at Broad and Master streets.

Merke, 28, collided with a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt just before 8 p.m. while riding his 2007 Honda, according to police.

The car was turning left onto Master while traveling northbound on Broad. Merke, who was off-duty, was riding southbound on Broad at the time of the crash.

The impact catapulted the helmeted officer from his seat.

Medics took Merke — who was on his way to an anti-violence event in North Philadelphia — to the hospital, where he is now listed in critical condition. He was initially listed in extremely critical condition.

“It’s teetering back and forth,” Officer Tanya Little, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department, said of Merke’s condition on Monday.

The driver remained at the scene and no charges have been filed, but the accident remains under investigation.

“All of the pieces haven’t been put together yet,” Little said.

Slight improvement

As more details of the incident come into focus, an around-the-clock detail of well-wishers has been established at Hahnemann.

“We’re just crossing our fingers,” said Capt. John McCloskey with the 35th District, which covers portions of West Oak Lane and East Germantown. “He’s got a lot of energy and a lot of heart.”

Merke, who has served the 35th for four years, is in a medically-induced coma as doctors work to reduce swelling and bleeding inside his brain, according to McCloskey. His leg is also broken, but can’t be operated on until the bleeding and swelling is under control, he said.

Anti-violence activists also pulling for him

Organizers of the Midnight Run for Peace, the event Merke was heading towards before the crash, will also be praying for the young officer’s recovery.

“It affected me personally and the whole squad. We’re one big family,” said Richard Dukes of Men United for a Better Philadelphia, who last visited Merke on Saturday. “When one goes down, it affects everybody. We’re really out of it.”

Dukes heads up the Midnight Run, an annual ride through communities of North Philadelphia consumed with violence and drug activity with goals of reversing those trends.

Merke has participated in the event for the past seven years.

“He’s an outstanding young man who gives back to the community,” said Dukes.

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