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Coaldale man cited in accident

Published June 11. 2012 05:02PM

A Coaldale man whose blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal threshold for drunken driving was hurt when he crashed his car into a parked pickup truck last Tuesday.

Harold J. Tonkin, 42, of 225 W. Ruddle St., faces charges of driving under the influence (DUI), careless driving and driving on the wrong side of the highway.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Officer Scott D. Cramer, here's what happened:

Cramer was called to the scene of a car crash that happened at 12:20 a.m. in the area of 40 Ruddle St. When he arrived he found Tonkin standing at the driver's side door of his car, which was pointed west in the eastbound lane. Tonkin was leaning inside the car. Both front airbags had deployed and there was damage to the driver's side front fender and door.

Tonkin told the officer he didn't know what had happened. He said he didn't hit anything but didn't know why the airbags deployed.

Cramer found that Tonkin had indeed hit a parked pickup truck. When he informed Tonkin of this, Tonkin was baffled, wondering how that could be as there was no damage to his car.

Cramer pointed out the damage to the fender, bumper and door, and showed Tonkin how the fender was pushed up against the tire and how the side view mirror was dangling from the door.

While speaking with Tonkin, Cramer smelled a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, and that his speech was slurred and his eye bloodshot.

The officer asked Tonkin if he had been drinking.

"Yeah, I had a lot to drink," Tonkin replied.

Cramer asked him if he had been injured, and Tonkin told him his back and legs hurt. While Lansford Ambulance emergency medical personnel treated Tonkin on the scene, Cramer inspected the legally-parked truck, which had been struck on the front driver's side tire and bumper.

There was some damage to the bumper. The driver's side wheel and tire were turned out, while the passenger side was still pointing straight ahead, meaning there was disabling damage to the driver's side suspension or axle.

Cramer gathered Tonkin's driver's license, insurance and registration information, and arranged for his 2003 Ford Focus to be towed. Cramer did not ask Tonkin to perform field sobriety tests due to the possibility of injury from the crash.

At the hospital, Tonkin agreed to have blood drawn. According to a test performed at 1:35 a.m., his blood alcohol level was 0.241 percent. The legal threshold for drunken driving is 0.08 percent.

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