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Drunken drivers hurt 2 officers in crashes

Two law enforcers along the Wasatch Front were injured this week by drunken drivers within 48 hours of each other.

The most recent incident was early Tuesday and involved a West Valley City police officer.

Sgt. Phil Quinlan was assisting a stranded motorist about 1:30 a.m. on 3500 South near 2400 West, said West Valley Police Lt. T. McLachlan.

Quinlan was sitting in his car when he noticed another vehicle in his rearview mirror coming at him at a high rate of speed, McLachlan said. With no apparent effort to stop, the second car plowed into the rear of Quinlan's vehicle.

The force of the impact pushed Quinlan's car across 3500 South and into the median, McLachlan said. No other vehicles were hit.

Investigators estimated the vehicle that hit the police car was traveling at least 50 mph when it crashed.

The 34-year-old female driver smelled of alcohol and was given a Breathalyzer test. Her blood-alcohol content registered a 1.98, about 2 1/2 times the legal limit, McLachlan said. The driver was not injured.

"She was pretty well out of it," said McLachlan, who noted the driver didn't know she had hit a police car.

Quinlan was taken to Cottonwood Hospital to be treated for whiplash and released.

"The officer is doing fine. He'll be stiff and sore for a while. We're very fortunate he wasn't injured worse," McLachlan aid.

Quinlan's car was totaled, he said.

Early Sunday, a South Salt Lake police officer just off duty and driving home was struck nearly head-on by an allegedly intoxicated driver.

The officer was on 3900 South near 200 West just after 1 a.m. when a female driver crossed the median and hit him, said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Wade Breur.

Right behind the officer were two Salt Lake County Sheriff's deputies transporting a person to jail, Breur said. They got out of their car to assist both drivers.

Both the officer and the woman received only minor injuries but had to be extricated from their vehicles because their doors were smashed, Breur said.

Emergency crews responding to the scene said they immediately realized the 33-year-old woman was most likely intoxicated.

Breur said the woman was on her way to pick up her husband, who was stranded on I-15.

A blood sample was taken at the hospital to test her blood-alcohol content. Those results were expected to be returned soon, Breur said. But he noted that investigators expected it to be high.

The officer was later released from the hospital with just scrapes and bruises.

The irony of the story, Breur said, is that the only other witness to the accident was also drunk, and also driving and was also ticketed.

Officers, who said the man registered a .11, just over the legal limit, on a Breathalyzer test, cited him for DUI.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com