January 18, 1995 in Idaho

Pain Hits Home Off-Duty Isp Officer And His Wife Struck By Suspected Drunken Driver

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Officer Jason MacNeil figures he’s clamped the cuffs on more than 150 drunken drivers.

But on Monday night the dangers of drunken driving took on a personal meaning for the 29-year-old Coeur d’Alene officer.

MacNeil and his wife, Teri, lay bruised and bleeding in their mangled Toyota 4-Runner after a suspected drunken driver slammed into them, according to Idaho State Police.

“When it’s your own family it’s a lot different,” MacNeil said Tuesday. “I’ve always been there helping people. I’ve never been on the other side. I don’t like it.”

ISP officers arrested William L. Reichert, 26, of Coeur d’Alene on suspicion of drunken driving. A breath test showed his blood alcohol level at more than .10, ISP officials told MacNeil. That’s the level legally considered driving under the influence.

MacNeil was off-duty Monday night while driving east on Indiana Avenue at 8:15 p.m. Reichert was headed north on 13th Street, according to an ISP report.

Officer MacNeil was halfway through the unmarked intersection when he saw Reichert’s car speeding toward him.

“All of a sudden I see these headlights, this guy was cruising,” MacNeil said. “He threw us for a loop. (Our) car came up off the ground. It rolled. We ended up going every which way.”

Reichert’s car collided with the 4-Runner, flipping it over onto its side, according to an ISP report.

Amid the broken glass, MacNeil called to his wife Teri, 34.

“I called to her and she didn’t answer me. She finally stirred and started crying and screaming,” he said. “I could feel (her) blood on my hand.”

MacNeil’s experience as a police officer helped him stay calm.

“I was just trying to keep cool and talk softly and keep her calm,” MacNeil said Tuesday. “I mean I love this woman more than anything in the entire world.”

Emergency workers had to break out the 4-Runner’s back window to remove the two.

Both were taken to Kootenai Medical Center. Reichert was booked into the Kootenai County Jail. He posted bail and declined to comment Tuesday.

Broken bone fragments in Teri MacNeil’s neck have put her in a neck brace. She has stitches in one hand. Jason MacNeil said he’s just bruised, sore and angry.

“I don’t have much sympathy for drunk drivers,” he said. “I just see all the damage they do. They cause so much pain in people’s lives.”

According to ISP statistics, 13 people died in alcohol or drug related accidents in North Idaho during 1994.

“I just thank God my wife is OK,” MacNeil said.

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