0

Police: Drunk driver sends officer to hospital

SNELLVILLE - A Snellville police officer was released from the hospital Tuesday after a drunken driver T-boned his cruiser last weekend, officials said.

Officer Brian Rankin, 23, underwent surgery for a broken hip sustained when Antonio Todd Gore, 45, of Loganville ran a red light and plowed his Lincoln Navigator in the officer's driver's side door, police said.

The incident occurred about 1 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of Skyland Drive and U.S. Highway 78 in Snellville.

Rankin, who was on duty at the time, had to be extricated from the vehicle. Officials expect a four to six month recovery period before the rookie officer returns to the force.

"He's doing as well as can be expected," Snellville police Chief Roy Whitehead said.

Gore's blood alcohol level tested at .247 percent - more than three times the legal limit, Whitehead said. He's charged with serious injury by vehicle, DUI, open container and related traffic violations.

Police are unsure where Gore was headed at the time of impact. He posted $12,949 and was released from the Gwinnett County Jail on Sunday.

No other injuries were reported in the crash. The suspect's SUV incurred heavy damages while the police vehicle was totaled, Whitehead said. Police plan to file a claim with Gore's insurance company to cover the vehicle's replacement, he said.

Whitehead said Rankin - who is married and expecting his first child - has already begun physical therapy sessions.

"It could have been a lot worse," Whitehead said.

Coincidentally, the crash wasn't the only incident involving a drunken driver striking a police car at the scene that night, police said.

As Gwinnett police helped their Snellville counterparts close U.S. Highway 78 to clear the scene, a man allegedly driving drunk slammed into a Gwinnett County Police Department cruiser, totaling it. No injuries were reported.

Police arrested Lee Duggan, 34, of Stone Mountain on charges of DUI, no drivers license and a related traffic charge in the second crash. He posted $2,300 bond Sunday.

"This guy just drove right into our patrol car that was parked and unmanned," Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli said.

Schiralli said the suspect's insurance is valid.