Ambassador Crocker arrested for hit and run, DUI

Published On: Aug 30 2012 01:50:34 PM PDT   Updated On: Aug 23 2012 05:55:50 PM PDT
Obama arrives in Afghanistan
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Ambassador Ryan Crocker, one of the most decorated State Department diplomats in the last half century, was arrested on August 14 by the Washington State Patrol for hit-and-run and DUI in Spokane Valley.

A Spokane native, Crocker, 63, was arrested at the intersection of Sprague Ave. and Pines Road at 2:05 p.m. on August 14 by a WSP trooper. According to the State Patrol, Crocker was in a left hand lane on Pines turning onto Sprague when he tried to turn right, crossed two lanes of traffic and clipped a semi, damaging the passenger side of the 2009 Ford Mustang he was driving.

"He did that from the left hand lane right in front of a semi and they struck basically in the intersection, his vehicle was spun around," Washington State Patrol Trooper Troy Briggs said.

The driver of the semi was uninjured.

An eyewitness to the incident followed Crocker and forwarded information about it on to authorities and a WSP trooper pulled him over.

"There was a pretty significant amount of damage to his vehicle; his vehicle did actually spin out and actually when a trooper contacted him on Sullivan his right front tire was completely flat," Trooper Briggs said.

Crocker was pulled over, taken into custody and transported to the Spokane Valley Precinct where he received a sobriety test. He had a .16 BAC on one test, which is twice the legal limit in Washington State. Another test indicated a .152 BAC.

"It was fairly obvious that Mr. Crocker was highly intoxicated ," Briggs said, adding that the arresting trooper said that Crocker was very cooperative throughout the incident.

The State Patrol believes he was intoxicated by alcohol, not prescription drugs, due to odor and the high blood alcohol count. The WSP added Thursday there is no way Crocker could have crossed two lanes of traffic, hit the semi and continued to drive without knowing it.

On Aug. 15, the day following his arrest, Crocker pled not guilty to the hit and run and DUI charges. Both charges carried a $1,000 bail.

Crocker is a career diplomat who has spent the last 30 years serving hot spots across the Middle East. In 1983, he was a diplomat serving in Lebanon when the American embassy in Beirut was hit by a truck laden with explosives, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans.

He served under President George W. Bush as ambassador to Iraq, having been appointed to the position following President' Bush's 2007 State of the Union address where he announced the surge of American forces into Iraq to quell the growing insurgency.

Crocker served as ambassador to Iraq through 2009 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor that can be awarded, by Bush.

In April of 2011, Crocker came out of retirement after President Barack Obama nominated him to serve as ambassador to Afghanistan. He was at the embassy last September when insurgents launched an assault on the compound in Kabul which houses both the embassy and NATO headquarters. Seven people were killed and 19 were wounded in the 19-hour long attack.

Earlier this year, Crocker announced he was retiring due to a serious health issue that he previously had while ambassador to Iraq. His last day as ambassador was July 13.

According to the Texas A & M website, Crocker is listed as being on leave from his position as dean, executive professor and the Edward and Howard Kruse Endowed Chair at the Bush of School of Government and Public Service.

At his initial appearance the court ordered him not to consume alcohol or drugs unless prescribed to do, to not drive after or while using drugs or alcohol, and to participate in random alcohol testing starting this Saturday, August 25.

Attempts to reach Crocker for comment on this report were unsuccessful. Attorney Julie Twyford, Crocker's legal counsel, was in court Thursday morning and was also unavailable for comment.

His next court appearance is scheduled for September 12.