Round Valley, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) — A Gila County Sheriff’s deputy had a close call Wednesday night.
He was directing traffic around a crash involving an elk on Route 87, south of Payson, when a suspected drunk driver slammed into his cruiser.
“Up here in the mountains we have animals. We have elk, deer, everything like that, and they’re out all year round,” said Deputy Tucker Kilbourne.
But the wildlife wasn’t the biggest danger that night.
Kilbourne was standing outside his SUV when the silver 2004 Chevrolet pickup came barreling at him, striking his SUV.
“I was very lucky and very blessed to have been able to get out of the way in time,” said Kilbourne.
The 34-year-old pickup truck driver was airlifted to a Valley hospital.
“I did observe the odor of alcohol,” said Kilbourne, of the driver.
Kilbourne was a little shaken up, but unhurt. “I was very lucky and very blessed to have been able to get out of the way in time,” said Kilbourne.
Not skipping a beat, Kilbourne is back to work Thursday in a new vehicle.
“My perspective on it is, our vehicles and really anything we carry as law enforcement, they’re all tools, and they all serve a purpose,” said Kilbourne. “And my vehicle did serve a purpose to protect myself and everybody else that was at the scene.”
It’s an unpleasant reminder that for law enforcement, even a seemingly regular call can change in an instant.
“Really it comes down to training and being aware of your own surroundings as you’re on a scene, or on any call really. It’s very important not to be complacent,” said Kilbourne.
DPS has taken over the investigation. They’ll be investigating whether impairment was a factor.
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