A one-vehicle accident involving Mobile Fire-Rescue Interim Chief Randy Smith and a city-owned vehicle Monday afternoon has sparked controversy at Government Plaza.

Smith, while in his city-owned SUV, tried to avoid a pothole and “made a right hand turn a little too tight” and “brushed” a utility pole, according to Chief of Staff Colby Cooper.

“This is a non-issue,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s a minor accident.”

Interim Fire Chief Randy Smith

Interim Fire Chief Randy Smith

Cooper said within 45 minutes of the accident, Smith had followed city policy and procedure by filling an accident report and submitting to a drug and alcohol screening.

“As far as we’re concerned he complied with all policies and procedures,” Cooper said.

Councilman Fred Richardson sent an email to the Mayor Sandy Stimpson requesting information on the accident. In the message, Richardson requested “the official police and fire investigators’ report” of the accident, as well as a “copy of the drug test associated” with the accident.

In the message Richardson also requested to know “the apparent overall physical condition of (Smith) at the time.”

In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Richardson said he was “concerned” about the accident, but would wait to comment on the situation until he had more information.

In a statement sent via email Wednesday, Cooper acknowledged the administration had received the email from Richardson. He also said the inquiry was sent to the media “before the mayor or I could read or respond to it.”

In the statement, Cooper warned council members not to “cross the line of interfering with the day-to-day operations” of the city.

“The City Council has the right to inquiry, but when inquiries are sent to the media with insinuations and implications about the good name and character of city employees, it crosses the line, “ he wrote.

Late Thursday, the fire department’s Accident Review Committee released the following report, concluding the accident could have been avoided if Smith had been paying attention, but noted he would not be disciplined beyond “Documented Verbal Counseling” that was placed in his personnel file.

Accident Review Committee Report

Accident Review Committee Report (Text)