The San Antonio Express-News reports that convicted drunken driver Kevin Balditt, 27, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for the January 22, 2011 crash that severed the leg of a San Antonio police officer.
Officer Looses Leg in Car Crash
Three years ago, Officer Michael Thornton stopped to help a vehicle with a flat tire on the side of Interstate 35 near San Fernando Street. As he walked back to his patrol car, Thornton saw a Dodge Ram driven by Balditt heading straight towards him.
The truck slammed into Thornton, smashing him between the truck and the patrol car and then flipping him over a guardrail along the highway. The motorists he had stopped to help had to pull him back onto the road as he dangled from the 35-foot tall elevated freeway.
The officer’s right leg was severed about 3 inches below his knee. Thorton, an Iraq War veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart after surviving a roadside blast, later earned the nickname “Robocop” during his recovery.
He now wears a prosthetic and serves in SAPD’s DWI unit.
Bladitt Sentenced to 16 Years
Bladitt pleaded guilty in April to intoxication assault of a public servant. State District Judge Ray Olivarri had the option of sentencing Bladitt to between two and 20 years in prison.
Balditt will have to serve at least half of the sentence before he is eligible for parole because Judge Olivarri made an affirmative finding Balditt’s vehicle was a deadly weapon.
According WOAI San Antonio, blood tests showed that Balditt’s blood alcohol content was 0.16 two hours after the crash.
The legal limit in Texas is .08. He also had a prior DWI conviction in 2005.
Law Enforcement Officer Injury Statistics
The following statistics were provided by the FBI:
- 52,901 officers were victims of line-of-duty assaults in 2012.
- The same year, 47 law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties:
- 22 officers were killed in automobile accidents
- 10 were struck by vehicles
- six died in motorcycle accidents
- three were killed in falls
- three died in aircraft accidents
- two were accidently shot
- one died in another type of duty-related accident.