Man accused of driving drunk into construction zone, dragging UHP trooper

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21 2012 6:12 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A Taylorsville man is accused of driving into a construction zone and then fleeing, dragging a Utah Highway Patrol trooper with him.

John Coleman Unker, 44, is charged with aggravated assault and failure to respond to an officer's signal, both third-degree felonies, as well as driving under the influence, a class A misdemeanor, and disobeying traffic personnel, a class C misdemeanor.

Police say Unker drove into a construction area at 7200 South and State on Aug. 29, despite reflective construction barrels, illuminated message boards and a UHP trooper directing traffic, according to charges filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court.

The UHP trooper approached the large track Unker was operating, which had driven into an area that had been dug out. Unker smelled of alcohol and spoke with slurred speech but refused to exit the vehicle, charges state.

According to the charges, Unker again told the officer, "I'm not getting out of the truck," and accelerated away, turning left. The trooper was leaning on the truck's A-frame at the time, felt his shoulder pull out of place and was dragged at least 10 feet, charges state.

The UHP trooper managed to free himself by striking the mirror with his flashlight until it collapsed.

Unker fled through the intersection but later returned, charges state. While he was being arrested, Unker asked why he was being taken into custody, apologized for drinking and admitted to consuming as many as 12 beers before driving, according to the charges.

E-mail: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @McKenzieRomero

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