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Crash interrupts deputies’ break

Four Spokane County sheriff’s deputies were taking a break at a gas station early Friday when a drunken driver crashed his truck into one of the walls.

The force of the crash knocked a seating booth off its bolts, and it slid across the floor into a shelf of videos, said Mark Hoene, a Wandemere Shell gas station sales associate who showed up shortly after the crash. The deputies were at the opposite side of the building.

They said they ran outside to see Clint W. Mason backing up his Toyota pickup from the shattered glass and brick rubble. Mason pulled into a parking space, and Deputy Rob Satake immediately confronted him, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Detective David Thornburg said.

Mason was obviously inebriated; he slurred his speech, had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol, according to a news release.

“His actual breath results were a 0.20 (percent) and a 0.21, so he was way up there,” Thornburg said. The legal limit is a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent.

The deputies arrested Mason, 48, for driving under the influence.

Mason told the deputies he drank a half-case of beer 30 minutes before crashed into the station at 1:30 a.m. He thought he was depressing the clutch pedal, but it was the gas pedal instead, according to a press release.

Mason apparently was honest, “just obliterated,” Thornburg said.

The gas station, on the corner of East Hastings Road and U.S. Highway 395 north of Spokane, stayed open for business even with a caved-in wall.

“Basically, there were so many sheriff’s cars out there we didn’t have any business, but we weren’t closed,” Hoene said.

By Friday afternoon, the hole in the building was boarded up with plywood, he said. It should be fixed within the next few days.

The Toyota did not sustain much damage, Hoene said.

Mason had two prior DUI arrests, one in 1992 and one in 1998 but was driving Friday with a valid license, Thornburg said.

“He’s been through this before, but he was kind of off the radar for a while,” Thornburg said.