Gainesville Police Officer Critically Injured
Gainesville Police Officer Critically Injured During Gator Fan Celebration
POSTED: 6:03 am EDT April 3, 2007
UPDATED: 9:54 am EDT April 3, 2007
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A Gainesville police lieutenant was critically injured after being hit by a pickup while trying to clear the streets amid the celebrations of the Florida Gators' win against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the NCAA title game early Tuesday.
Police said Lt. Corey Dahlem was opening the road at University Avenue and NW 17th Street at about 2:30 a.m. when he was hit by a Toyota pickup. Police said the vehicle struck Dahlem and continued down the road.
"(Dahlem) is in very, very serious condition," Gainesville Lt. Keith Kameg said. "This is something that is a tragedy for tonight. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family."
The driver of the truck was stopped about three blocks away and was taken into custody.
Witnesses said the driver was going about 70 mph and did not stop even after he hit several cars and then the officer.
"The car was coming past way too fast and it hit the other car and it sounds like he was next to it," witness John Stephenson said.
Police said the man appeared to be driving drunk, Local 6 reported.
Dahlem was rushed to Shands Hospital at UF where he is listed in critical condition.
He is a 22-year veteran of the police department, Local 6 reported.
My thoughts and prayers to his family and department
Florida Highway Patrol identified the driver of the truck as Austin John Wright, 21, of Atlantic Beach. He gave two breath tests that registered his blood alcohol level at 0.227 percent and 0.214 percent, nearly three times the legal driving limit, FHP spokesman Mike Burroughs said.