Drunk driver crashes into Fla. cruiser, injures officer
By Rachael Joyner
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Police arrested a West Palm Beach woman Thursday on charges she severely injured a Boynton Beach police officer when she crashed into his patrol car.
Karen Pauline Gomez, 35, was charged with DUI serious bodily injury and DUI property damage, according to court records. She was being held in the Palm Beach County Jail. Officer Brent Joseph, 28, is still recovering from his injuries, but he is back to work on light duty, police said.
Police suspected Gomez was driving under the influence on Sept. 22 when she barreled past emergency flares in the road and struck Joseph's parked patrol car, knocking it into Joseph. Results from a toxicology test showed her blood alcohol level was 0.175 and 0.178 the night of the crash, according to a police report. The legal limit in Florida is 0.08.
Joseph, who has worked for the Boynton Beach Police Department since April 2005, was directing traffic that night from an earlier traffic fatality at Gateway Boulevard and Congress Avenue. He was standing by the driver-side door of his patrol car, which was parked across the southbound lanes of Congress Avenue.
Gomez, heading south on Congress Avenue in a red 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix, failed to heed the patrol car's flashing emergency lights and the emergency flares positioned across the lanes as she struck Joseph's car about 3:35 a.m, according to the report. The patrol car hit Joseph on his right side and knocked him into the roadway, slamming his head into the pavement.
Joseph was rushed to Delray Medical Center with a deep cut to the back of his head, road rash, a separated shoulder, a fractured right leg and a broken jaw. Meanwhile, police questioned Gomez, who told them she did not know what happened, the report said. They smelled alcohol on her breath and her speech was slurred and thick, police said.
In a statement taken days later, Gomez told police that she had three drinks that night and didn't feel she was intoxicated, according to court records. She had no explanation for not seeing the flares and emergency lights of the police car.
Copyright 2007 Sun-Sentinel
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