By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – A pedestrian was struck by an alleged drunk driver on U.S. Highway 70 near Firth Park on Thursday night.
According to a Safford Police report, Abel Scott Peralta, 46, was westbound on U.S. 70 in a white, Dodge truck when he entered the center turn lane to turn into the park to use the facility’s restroom. Peralta said he didn’t notice that a pedestrian, identified as Hector Rodriguez, was standing in the center lane apparently waiting for traffic so he could continue crossing the highway. Peralta said he saw Rodriguez at the last second but didn’t have any time to swerve and accidentally struck him with his truck.
Rodriguez was found by officers lying in the roadway. An officer helped keep Rodriguez’s head and neck stabilized until he was relieved by paramedics from Lifeline Ambulance. Rodriguez was then transported to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center, where he was treated and ultimately released.
There is not a crosswalk in the area where Rodriguez was struck, and it was between 10th and 11th avenues. It is, however, a popular area for homeless individuals to cross the highway from encampments north of the road over to Firth Park or the Circle K as well as people staying at a hotel on the southern side.
While speaking with Peralta, the officer noted Peralta had an alcoholic odor on his breath. Several witnesses also advised they smelled alcohol on Peralta as well.
Peralta allegedly admitted to drinking some beer down buy the Gila River before driving. He also admitted that his license was already suspended for a previous DUI.
After failing a field sobriety test, Peralta was given a portable breath test, which registered his breath/alcohol content at .132. He was then placed under arrest for aggravated DUI and was advised additional charges, including aggravated assault, were possible.
After taking a sample of his blood for testing purposes, Peralta was taken to his mother’s house in Safford and released. Charges are pending results of the blood test and review from the Graham County Attorney’s Office.