While Petaluma Police were prepared for the typical St. Patrick's Day weekend hijinks — the department deployed extra patrols to handle any incidents that cropped up — they were surprised by a string of apparent alcohol-related collisions that resulted in four suspected DUI arrests.
The first collision occurred on Saturday night, at approximately 6:15 p.m. Petaluma police dispatchers received reports of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle on Petaluma Boulevard North at East Washington Street. Police said that a witness followed the suspect driver in his vehicle as it fled the scene. Officers eventually stopped Timothy Kemp, 50, of Petaluma and arrested him on suspicion of felony DUI and felony hit and run. Kemp, who was already on DUI probation, was also alleged to have violated his DUI probation by driving with a blood alcohol level almost twice the legal limit, according to police. He was arrested and taken to county jail, where he posted a $30,000 bond and was released. Police said the pedestrian Kemp allegedly hit, Matthew Bushner, 22, of Petaluma, sustained moderate injuries and was also under the influence of alcohol, which may have played a role in the collision.
The second collision took place on Windsor Drive at West Haven Way at approximately 10:23 p.m. Saturday night. According to police, witnesses called 911 and reported a crash at the roundabout. Officers arrived on scene to find a 17-year-old male driver they believed to be under the influence of alcohol. He had lost control of his vehicle and plowed through several street signs before coming to a stop off the roadway. Officers administered tests which revealed a blood alcohol level of .19 percent, according to police. The minor was arrested for DUI and released to the custody of his parents. He was not injured during the crash.
The third crash occurred at approximately 4:20 a.m. Sunday morning at the pedestrian crossing on Ely Boulevard South at Sutter Street. After police dispatchers received a call reporting the collision, officers arrived on scene to find Brian Burdette, 19, of Petaluma behind the wheel of his black Volkswagen Jetta, which he had crashed into the pedestrian corral located in the middle of the road between the north and southbound lanes. A corral is the stopping place in the middle of a roadway designed to help pedestrians cross safely by offering a place to pause between opposite directions of traffic. Officers believed that Burdette was under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs and arrested him on suspicion of DUI. He was booked into jail. Burdette and his passenger were not injured in the collision that caused major damage to he pedestrian crossing.
In a non-collision incident, Petaluma police responded to a report of a suspected drunken driver at approximately 1:20 a.m. on Saturday morning. As the reporting witness followed the suspect, dispatchers directed officers to Lakeville Highway and South McDowell Boulevard, where they pulled the driver over. Felipe Bernal-Rubalcava, 19, of Petaluma was arrested after tests showed a .16 percent blood alcohol level — twice the legal limit. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI and booked into county jail.
Petaluma police are reminding the public that extra patrols will be out in town all weekend and are asking the public to report any suspected drunk drivers by calling 911.