Off-duty officer hurt in cycle crash improves

Posted: June 10, 2012

An off-duty Philadelphia Police officer seriously injured in a motorcycle crash Friday showed signs of improvement Saturday.

Police said his medical condition was downgraded from "extremely critical" to "critical."

Milan Merke, 28, a four-year officer assigned to the 35th District in Olney, was going to Broad and Thompson Streets to get gas when he collided with a car at Broad and Master Streets.

Merke was preparing to join an anti-violence motorcycle rally through North Philadelphia.

Merke was traveling southbound down Broad Street just before 8 p.m., when his 2007 Honda crashed into the passenger side of a 2007 Chevrolet Colbat making a left turn.

The impact hurled Merke from his bike. The driver of the car remained at the scene and the crash is still under investigation, police said. Milan was wearing a helmet, police said.

Merke was placed in a medically-induced coma to relieve pressure and bleeding on his brain, said his friends and fellow riders who remained gathered at Hahnemann University Hospital until late into night Friday.

Saturday, about a dozen of Merke's fellow motorcycle club members held vigil outside the hospital -- their bikes lined up in front of the emergency entrance.

For a time, Merke's family members and fellow officers came outside to pray with the bikers.

A member of the Philly X-Treme Motorcycle Club, Merke was planning to join 100 other riders in the Midnight Run for Peace through violence-torn neighborhoods.

"We go through high-crime areas and try to talk to the community," said Richard Dukes, of Men United for a Better Philadelphia, who was at the hospital Saturday.

"He's been with us from the inception," Dukes said of Merke. "He's a good person - a wonderful person to be around. He wants to give back to the community."

Merke had regained consciousness Saturday and was improving, Dukes and others said

"We're out here to support him and his family," Dukes said. "He's part of our family too."

Contact staff writer Julie Zauzmer at 215-854-2771 or jzauzmer@philly.com

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