911 Caller On Former Spokane Deputy: It Looked Like He Was 'Passing Out'
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE: A former sheriff's deputy with a history of convictions for drug or alcohol-fueled crashes was again arrested Wednesday after concerned motorists blocked his vehicle at Broadway and Pines about 3:30 p.m.
911 received a call from a motorist who said they witnessed 49-year-old James L. Crabtree "passing out" and nearly colliding with other vehicles as he drove west on Broadway Avenue.
A second female caller told 911 that she watched as the driver "fell asleep, wakes up and then falls asleep." Within a minute, she called 911 again and said Crabtree had run into her car.
Motorists blocked in Crabtree's Cadillac and deputies arrived and detained him at Broadway and Pines. They noted an open container of Four Loko, an alcoholic beverage, in his car.
Following field sobriety testing, Deputy Rick Johnson arrested Crabtree for First-Degree Negligent Driving. He was driven to the Spokane County Jail where a corrections deputy found a Schedule IV sedative in his pants pocket.
Johnson booked him on a felony count of Possession of Controlled Substance as well as for the traffic misdemeanor.
In December 2001, Crabtree was driving on Bigelow Gulch Road when he crossed over into the centerline and struck a patrol car driven by Earl Howerton. The crash totaled both vehicles.
A sergeant at the time, Howerton suffered life-threatening injuries and spent more than two years recovering before returning to full duty with the sheriff's office. He has since promoted to lieutenant.
Crabtree was arrested for Driving under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs for that crash, and for Possession of Controlled Substance after cocaine was found in the car.
In October 2006, Crabtree was driving northbound on Market when he crossed the centerline again. A 63-year-old Mead woman saw him approaching and had almost stopped her southbound vehicle when Crabtree hit her nearly head-on and continued on another 150+ feet before stopping.
Following field sobriety testing, Crabtree was again arrested for Driving while Under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs.
Crabtree was hired as a sheriff's cadet in January 1980 and as a deputy sheriff in March of 1983. He resigned in July 1986.
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