A Lakeland Police Officer was hit by a drunk driver early Saturday morning in an incident that could have been much worse.
Early Saturday morning, officer Cory Suttle was on patrol and pulled a car over at the intersection of Main St. and South Florida Ave. for an illegal right turn.
The driver reportedly showed signs of being impaired, so Officer Suttle pulled the driver over with emergency lights activated.
While standing on the side of the vehicle, a Dodge pick-up passed by, striking him on the left elbow. The driver did not slow down or make any attempt to help. The department says a few more inches and Officer Suttle would have suffered serious if not fatal injuries.
He notified communications and caught up to the pick-up truck while another officer responded and conducted the original DUI investigation.
Suttle ordered the driver, 21-year-old Jerry Coots out of the vehicle, at which time he immediately apologized for hitting the officer. Coots said he panicked when the passenger in his vehicle told him he hit a police officer.
He was given a field sobriety test and registered a .14 on the breath test. Coots was charged with driving under the influence with injury, leaving the scecne of an accident with injury, failure to move over for a stopped emergency vehicle and failure to stop for a red light.
Lakeland Police Department reminds drivers to move over when you see first responders and utility crews working.
Under a law passed in 2014, motorists are required to:
Approach law enforcement patrol cars, emergency vehicles, utility service vehicles, sanitation vehicles, and tow trucks/wreckers with caution.
Change lanes away from these vehicles if traveling on a multi-lane roadway and able to move over safely; or Slow down to a speed that is 20 mph less than the posted speed limit, when a clearly identified emergency or work-crew vehicle is parked and crews are working.