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Young Officer's Leg Severed After Collision With Drunk Driver

Associated Press

January 23, 2011

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Police Officer Mike Thornton 27, remains at Brooke Army Medical Center where Police Chief Bill McManus said surgeons were unable to save the young officer’s severed leg.

At about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Thornton had parked his police unit on the upper ramp of I-35 and South Laredo Street. He was assisting a stranded motorist when McManus said a blue extended cab pickup truck crushed the rear of the patrol car where the officer had been standing.

“The officer actually was thrown up in the air,” said McManus.

He said Thornton was holding on to the concrete barrier with his arm when “the two people who he was assisting pulled him back over by his belt.”

Had they not reacted immediately, police believe the officer may have fallen to his death 30 feet below I-35.

McManus said 24-year-old Kevin Balditt of San Antonio, now in police custody, will likely face charges of intoxication assault on a police officer and driving while intoxicated.

Public records show Balditt was convicted of DWI in 2005. After a second arrest in 2007, the charge was dismissed because of insufficient evidence. Balditt also pleaded no contest to a 2008 charge of assault bodily with injury of a family member.

Thornton, who has been assigned to East patrol, becomes the second SAPD officer in three months to be struck by an alleged drunk driver, while helping stranded motorists.

McManus said the first resulted in an officer’s death and now another has lost his leg.

Last October, 25-year-old officer Sergio Antillon, a rookie officer, was critically injured and died a few days later.

McManus said, “It’s frustrating and it’s tragic.”

He said last year SAPD arrested twice as many people than the year before, and still the public and his officers remain at risk from “people who’ve been drinking and get behind the wheel.”

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