How did 2 drivers team up to stop suspected drunken driver at night? They yelled
Pennsylvania State Police praised two motorists Thursday for stopping a drunken driver on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but said the Good Samaritans should have reported the situation and allowed officers to handle it.
“It could have gone one of two ways,” said Trooper Timothy Amy of the Gibsonia state police station, who investigated. “Fortunately it went the good, safe way, or it could have been really bad.”
The two drivers, whom Amy declined to identify, were heading west on the turnpike in North Sewickley, Beaver County, around 10 p.m. when they saw a vehicle in front of them weaving across both lanes. Amy described the driver, Frank Ray Blackmon, 53, of Waynesburg as “extremely intoxicated” and said he nearly struck a concrete median on one side of the highway and an embankment on the other. Amy charged Blackmon, whose license was previously suspended, with drunken driving.
“They saw how horribly he was driving and knew something bad was going to happen,” Amy said. “He could not maintain a lane.”
The drivers coordinated by yelling at each other through open windows, Amy said, and one of them called 911.
They pulled their vehicles abreast behind Blackmon’s Chevrolet Impala and slowed traffic behind them by activating their flashers. Then they maneuvered on either side of Blackmon’s car and slowly forced him to the shoulder.
“Fortunately everything worked out, and they did a really good deed,” Amy said, adding that the drivers had no experience in executing a controlled traffic stop. “They even got him to put his car in park and give them his keys.”
But police said motorists should not attempt to stop drunken drivers, particularly on a busy interstate.
“You shouldn’t engage these people because you don’t know what the situation is,” said North Sewickley police chief Ronald Leindecker, who was not involved in the turnpike incident.
“It could be a criminal incident happening, not even a drunk driver. If it is a drunk driver they could be a belligerent person and want to fight or pull a gun. You never know what might happen,” Leindecker said.
State police spokesman Cpl. Adam Reed said motorists should call 911 and provide as much information as possible, including a description of the vehicle and driver, location and direction of travel and a license plate number.
“Certainly there could be exigent circumstances if you feel someone’s life might be in immediate danger, but that should be reserved for very exigent circumstances,” Reed said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing that can be very dangerous.”