SPOKANE, Wash. - An eyewitness who saw a hit and run at the intersection of E. Sprague Ave. and N. Pines Road last week, which involved former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, described the driver as "highly out of control and highly dangerous."
Friday, KHQ acquired the 911 tapes, which helped paint a clearer picture of what unfolded the afternoon Crocker was arrested for the August 14 crash.
Crocker, 63, is now facing hit-and-run and drunk driving charges after striking a semi-truck when he tried to make a right turn from the left lane as he headed northbound on Pines, according to Washington State Patrol. Crocker, a Spokane native, registered a .160 blood-alcohol content - twice the legal limit - and a .152 in successive breath tests when was arrested in Spokane Valley, Trooper Troy Briggs said.
Crocker, who was driving a 2009 Ford Mustang convertible, was stopped in the left lane at a red light. When the light turned green, he tried to turn right across the path of the semi in the right lane, Briggs said. The vehicles collided and Crocker's car spun out, but he kept driving, Briggs said. A witness followed him to a nearby bank and called police.
On the tapes, you can hear two eyewitnesses called police following the crash.
Steve Gregory was one of those eyewitnesses who described a chaotic sequence of events to dispatchers.
He explained that the driver of the Mustang "Cut the wheel, slid around in a four-wheel slide, laying rubber down, and then ran up over the sidewalk on the south side of Sprague and then cut the vehicle back and then went across both lanes and on to the divider median."
Despite that Crocker's car had a mangled door and flat tires, troopers say he drove another two miles and pulled over into a bank.
The other eyewitness, who did not want to be identified, followed Crocker to the bank. He said he watched as Crocker get out of the car to survey the damage and then went inside. The eyewitness said Crocker appeared out of it.
"I just told the troopers that I didn't know if he was suffering shock, stroke, had cerebral palsy, a physical condition, physical ailment," he told KHQ.
Crocker was arrested, cited, and released shortly after.
Crocker retired from the foreign service last month after serving three decades in some of the world's most dangerous hotspots, most recently Afghanistan.
An Arabic speaker and six-time ambassador, he came out of an earlier retirement last year to take the helm of the embassy at President Barack Obama's request. This year, Crocker announced he was retiring due to a serious health issue that he previously had while ambassador to Iraq.
He also ran embassies in Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria.
Crocker was in Beirut when the U.S. Embassy there was blown up in 1983, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. His residence in Syria was ransacked by a mob when he was ambassador there in 1998, and insurgents attacked the embassy in Kabul last September during Crocker's service there.
Crocker pleaded not guilty in court the next day. His lawyer, Julie Twyford, did not immediately return calls.
His next court date is scheduled for September 12th.
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