By Jon Johnson
GRAHAM COUNTY – A self-admittedly drunk man from Clifton and a foreigner from Cologne, Germany were found outside a crashed car with a loaded handgun Aug. 24. However, each man claimed the other was driving and, in the end, no citations or charges were listed.
A deputy was dispatched to the area of Safford/Bryce Road and Reay Lane at about 11:11 p.m. after a reporting party informed Graham County Dispatch about a car high centered on a berm to the north of the intersection with two men standing outside. The caller said one of the men appeared to be intoxicated and had yelled at him not to call the cops.
Upon arrival, a deputy saw a black, 2003 Nissan 350Z stuck on an approximately 30-foot high berm with two men outside. As he approached he noticed that one of the men, later identified as Richard Lee Thomas, 44, of Clifton, was not wearing a shirt but was holding a silver pistol. Thomas put the pistol in the open trunk and the deputy retrieved it and emptied it of its bullets. A box of ammunition was also retrieved from Thomas’ pocket.
The second man was identified as Sergey Alexikov, 33, of Cologne, Germany. Alexikov claimed Thomas was driving the car and he was looking at the navigation on his cell phone when the crash occurred. He was worried the incident would prevent him from getting a VISA to enter the country and that he would be flying back to Germany on Aug. 29.
Thomas, whose driving license was revoked and did not have current insurance, said he was passed out drunk at the time of the crash and that Alexikov was driving.
With both men alleging the other was driving and not having any physical evidence to prove either man was lying, the deputy noted he could not determine who to blame for the crash due to lack of evidence and released both men. Alexikov was given a ride to his hotel room and Thomas was given his pistol and was picked up at the scene by his cousin.
Nutcracker Towing arrived and removed the car from the berm and towed it to its yard in Pima.