Amarillo Can’t Have Nice Things Because of Drunks.
In what is becoming all too familiar here in the Yellow City, yet another emergency vehicle was struck by a drunk driver on Friday night:
Now, I've gone on the record many times (including as recent as St. Patricks day) about the concept of: if you're gonna go out and have a drink... have a plan. Clearly that doesn't work. And I'm a little teed off.
It's not just me.. other members of our air staff here have made their feelings known on the subject. Drunk driving is a big problem here in Amarillo. A lot of the official statistics like to put Austin/Travis County in the spotlight for DWI arrests, but allow me to point something out about what really sets Amarillo apart. That is: Drunks in Austin don't seem to hit emergency vehicles at the rate we got going here--which is every other day, it seems like.
We don't need stats to prove it anymore. Let's take a look at where we are for the year 2021. It's not looking too good, I'll tell you that.
For your convenience, I've started up a tally.
1. & 2. January 4th - Two Amarillo Police officers were sent to the hospital with serious injuries when their SUVs was struck by a drunk driver while they were blocking the road for a structural fire at Madison and Amarillo Blvd. The driver was ultimately arrested and charged with Intoxication Assault
3. January 7th - The third vehicle struck happened on US-287. If there wasn't enough irony in this situation, the officer was already working an DWI case when he was struck by an intoxicated driver's vehicle... starting to see a trend here?
4. March 11th - An Amarillo Police Department cruiser was struck by a drunk driver early in the morning at the corner of 10th and Georgia. The 21-year-old suspect who hit him was booked into Potter County on DWI charges, and the officer was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
5. March 20th - Now it's just getting scary here. While AFD was putting out a car that had caught fire on I-40, an APD cruiser's was clipped hard enough to shear the side mirror off. The driver kept going, but was pulled over and apprehended further down the road. At this point I'm wondering just how intoxicated do you have to be if you see flashing lights and still manage to hit their vehicle?
6. March 26th - Amarillo Fire Department's #13 truck is hit by an intoxicated driver.
Let's face it, we got some folks who really think they are "perfectly fine" when they are behind the wheel and drunk--and then end up hitting a police car or fire truck. The consequences are steep, legally and financially. The average DWI expenses are astronomical. You're looking at $10,000 - $15,000 bucks for attorney fees, court costs, and fines. As for the City, the going rate for a APD cruiser is about $68,000.
Figure it out Amarillo... until you do, this is why we cant have nice things.