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Reckless driver drags paramedic 500 feet

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000

TAMPA -- A paramedic with Tampa Fire Rescue tried to stop a suspected drunken driver from hurting somebody Wednesday morning and ended up being dragged down the street as he clung to a moving car, police said.

Lt. Walter "Craig" Yancey, 44, watched 19-year-old Christian Geraldo Rojas try to navigate his car around the parking lot of a McDonald's on N Central Avenue without much success about 8 a.m.

As Yancey stood in the driveway of Fire Station No. 5, Rojas pulled in, still driving erratically, Yancey later told police.

Yancey, a 22-year veteran of Tampa Fire Rescue, leaned in Rojas' passenger window and noticed Rojas appeared drunk, police said. As Yancey reached to take the keys from the ignition, Rojas took off, dragging Yancey along with him on the passenger side door for 500 feet, police said.

Rojas hit a telephone pole, which threw Yancey from the car. Rojas ran but was caught soon after. Yancey was treated at Memorial Hospital for scrapes and bruises and released.

Police charged Rojas with aggravated battery on a firefighter, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, reckless driving, driving with a revoked license and driving under the influence. Rojas was in jail Thursday night in lieu of $11,500 bail.

Records show Rojas has been charged twice before with driving under the influence.

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