04/04/2007

Drunk driver slams Fla. officer; runs 2 motorcycle officers off road

Gators Party Ends With Injured Officer
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A drunken driver slammed into a police officer who was clearing Florida Gators fans from the streets early Tuesday, critically injuring him, then ran two motorcycle officers off the road before he was stopped, authorities said.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Austin John Wright, 21, of Atlantic Beach, had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.

The Gainesville Police officer, Lt. Corey Dahlem, was hospitalized in critical condition, police spokesman Keith Kameg said. None of the other officers was injured.

Police had been clearing the streets early Tuesday of the nearly 25,000 fans celebrating the University of Florida's 84-75 win over Ohio State for the Gators' second straight NCAA basketball title.

Four other people were arrested during the partying, including three fans for disorderly conduct, and one person for slapping an officer.

''For how large the crowd was, four arrests is insignificant,'' Kameg said, but he said of the injuries to Dahlem, ''This destroys everything. It's absolutely senseless.''

Wright gave two breath tests that registered his blood alcohol level at 0.227 percent and 0.214 percent, Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Burroughs said. He was booked on charges of careless driving, driving under the influence with serious bodily injury and attempting to elude police.

 

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