OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - “I really appreciate you keeping people like me off the street,” a 20-year-old man told troopers after drunkenly running a roadblock and crashing into a helicopter at the scene of a serious crash, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Troopers were already at the scene attending to a pedestrian who was hit by a Jeep on U.S. 192 near State Road 429.
At about 1:41 a.m. Wednesday, a vehicle driven by Cameron Brian Sunderly, of Clermont, swerved through emergency vehicles set up as a roadblock and smashed into the tail rotor of the helicopter, investigators said.
FHP officials said they're investigating where Sunderly was illegally served alcohol.
"He's facing some serious charges when he goes before a judge to explain why he had been drinking to begin with and the level was so high," FHP Sgt. Kim Montes said.
When additional troopers arrived, they found a man close to tears pacing back and forth near the crash scene, an FHP incident report said.
I really appreciate you keeping people like me off the street. -- Driver of car that hit helicopter, according to FHP.
The man, only identified as Chris, told the trooper that his friend had hit the helicopter as they were driving home from a restaurant. Montes said he was lucky to not hit any first responders, police officers, or the person waiting for emergency care.
“People are constantly trying to go around those barricades to get through and they don't realize it's shut down for a reason,” Montes said. “It's for the protection of the investigators and for life saving response for any victims."
"This driver, being impaired, could have injured or killed a lot more people inside this closed scene because those people are in there working, not expecting a car to come through there," Montes added.
Sunderly was still inside the vehicle when the trooper approached him and asked if he’d been injured in the crash.
“I could immediately detect the obvious odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath as he spoke,” the trooper said in the report.
Sunderly was incoherent and the trooper had to ask several times and explain in detail what a field sobriety test was before he agreed to do it, the report said.
As part of standard questioning, the trooper asked if Sunderly wore glasses or contacts. When the man said he wore contacts, the trooper asked if they changed the color of his eyes.
“No, blue all day, baby,” Sunderly replied, according to the report.
Sunderly was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, refusal to obey a police officer and reckless driving. Officials said his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.
He bonded out of jail Wednesday afternoon, but did not respond to Channel 9's questions.
Dash camera video of the incident is expected to be released Thursday.
The pedestrian injured in the initial crash was taken to the hospital by other means. The person, who was not identified, was listed in critical condition.
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