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Video: Officer plunges 16 feet from overpass to avoid drunk driver

The speeding car slammed into Officer R. Carter’s leg. To avoid being hit again, he jumped over the barrier


By Margaret Kadifa and Brooke A. Lewis
Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — A woman was charged Friday with intoxication assault after she drove into one Houston police officer's leg and forced another to jump over a highway barrier to avoid her speeding car, according to the Houston Police Department.

Officer R. Carter, who was hit in the leg, remains hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. Officer C. Herrera, who attempted to avoid the car by jumping over the freeway barrier, was treated and released. Both officers are assigned to the HPD Traffic Enforcement Division's DWI Task Force.

The officers observed a car crash around 2:55 a.m. on the Newcastle exit ramp of the Southwest Freeway. They used their patrol car to block the exit ramp and then got out to investigate. 

 

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Despite the blockade, 25-year-old Bianca Bennett drove her black Ford Focus onto the exit ramp, around the patrol car and into the car involved in the earlier crash, department spokesman Kese Smith said. At one point, she was going about 75 mph.

The car veered toward Carter and slammed into his leg. To avoid getting hit again, Carter jumped over the cement barrier along the highway, falling 16 feet to the ground below.

Herrera also jumped over the barrier to dodge the driver, Smith said.

"You've got essentially a 3,000-, 4,000-, 10,000-pound weapon coming straight at these officers," HPD Sgt. Thomas Fendia said. "There's absolutely nothing they can do ... it's a scary situation. It really is."

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said he plans to crack down on drunk driving in the city, adding that Texas leads the nation in deaths from drunk driving.

"We need to make examples of these people," Acevedo said. "Because there is absolutely no reason why someone should get behind the wheel after drinking."

Carter was sworn in as an HPD officer in November 2010, while Herrera has worked for the department since August 2013.  

Fendia credited an ambulance crew that arrived for saving the officers' lives. The crew - Wesley Pleasant and Fernando Garcia - yelled at the officers about the incoming Ford Focus, prompting them to move out of harm's way, according to a news release from the Houston Fire Department.

The ambulance crew then helped with emergency care of the officers who jumped.

Other police officers were able to arrest Bennett without incident. 

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©2017 the Houston Chronicle

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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