Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 4, 2013

Leelanau deputies nab drunken hit-and-run suspect

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — LELAND — A Traverse City man accused of fleeing the scene of a Leland hit-and-run was found within minutes by sheriff’s deputies who saw him drunkenly driving with one tire shredded to its aluminum rim, authorities said.

The suspect, 27, was arrested Sunday on charges of fleeing the scene of a personal injury accident and operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich said the suspect is believed to be the driver of a yellow Jeep Wrangler who struck and injured pedestrian in Leland.

Borkovich said the 14-year-old pedestrian, of Cedar, was walking with a group of friends on West Pearl Street about 4:30 p.m. when a yellow Jeep swerved in their direction.

“He went off the road and back on the road,” Borkovich said. “The kids tried to jump out of the way.”

The victim was the only teenager in the group who wasn’t able to run and jump over a Second Street guardrail to escape the vehicle. Borkovich said the victim received stitches at Munson Medical Center for an injured leg.

The teens told authorities they last saw the Jeep headed south on Main Street. Sheriff’s deputies quickly found the vehicle after receiving a report of a similar car on South Manitou Trail that was driving on a flat rear tire.

“It was 13 minutes from the time the call came in until they got him,” Borkovich said. “It was pretty impressive.”

The driver showed signs of intoxication and told deputies he was driving from a wedding in Leland. Borkovich said the suspect failed field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer test showed a blood-alcohol content of .16.

The suspect is expected to be arraigned in 86th District Court this week.

The Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department reported three drunken driving arrests over the Labor Day holiday weekend, including the hit-and-run incident. In one case, a Lake Leelanau woman on Saturday told the deputy who stopped her that she put hand lotion in her mouth to mask the scent of alcohol. She later realized the lotion also contained alcohol.

Borkovich said Leelanau County has seen more than 70 drunken driving arrests this year.

“That bothers me that so many people are intoxicated,” he said. “There’s been an uptick in the last three weeks.”