GENE JOHNSON and NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
SPOKANE — Former U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker is facing hit-and-run and drunken driving charges in Washington state after striking a semi-truck when he tried to make a right turn from the left lane, authorities said Thursday.
The 63-year-old Spokane native registered a .160 blood-alcohol content — twice the legal limit — and a .152 in successive breath tests when he was arrested Aug. 14 in Spokane Valley, Washington State Patrol Trooper Troy Briggs said.
Crocker, who was driving a 2009 Ford Mustang convertible, was stopped in the left lane at a red light. And when the light turned green, he tried to turn right across the path of the semi in the right lane, Briggs said.
The vehicles collided and Crocker’s car spun out, but he kept driving, Briggs said. A witness followed him to a nearby bank and called police.
“He was very cooperative but obviously intoxicated,” Briggs said.
Crocker pleaded not guilty in court the next day, KXLY-TV reported. His lawyer, Julie Twyford, did not immediately return a call or email from The Associated Press on Thursday.
Crocker retired from the foreign service last month after serving three decades in some of the world’s most dangerous hotspots, most recently Afghanistan.
An Arabic speaker and six-time ambassador, he came out of an earlier retirement last year to take the helm of the embassy at President Barack Obama’s request. This year, Crocker announced he was retiring due to a serious health issue that he previously had while ambassador to Iraq.
He also ran embassies in Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria.
Crocker was in Beirut when the U.S. Embassy there was blown up in 1983, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. His residence in Syria was ransacked by a mob when he was ambassador there in 1998, and insurgents attacked the embassy in Kabul last September during Crocker’s service there.
He served as ambassador to Iraq from 2007 through 2009. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.
Crocker has been on leave from his position as dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
His next court appearance is scheduled for September 12.