Sat, Aug 25, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Ex-ambassador Crocker charged with hit-and-run

COLLIDED WITH A TRUCK:Ryan Crocker, who recently retired from a globe-trotting career, headed US embassies in many of the world’s major hot-spots

AP, SPOKANE, Washington State

Ryan Crocker, the former US ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, faces hit-and-run and intoxicated driving charges after his vehicle collided with a truck and a breath test registered twice the legal limit for alcohol, authorities said.

Crocker, who was long one of the top US diplomats and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was arrested on Aug. 14 in Washington state, Trooper Troy Briggs said. He registered a 160 blood-alcohol content — twice the legal limit — when was arrested in Spokane Valley, Briggs said.

Crocker, who was driving a 2009 Ford Mustang convertible, was waiting in the left lane at a red light, when the light turned green he tried to turn right across the path of the semi in the right lane, Briggs said

The vehicles collided, but Crocker kept driving, Briggs said. A witness followed him to a nearby bank and called the police.

“He was very cooperative, but obviously intoxicated,” Briggs said.

A TV channel reported that Crocker pleaded not guilty in court the next day. His lawyer, Julie Twyford, did not immediately return a call or email on Thursday

Crocker retired from the foreign service last month after serving three decades in some of the world’s most dangerous hotspots, most recently Afghanistan

An Arabic speaker and six-time ambassador, he came out of an earlier retirement last year to take the helm of the embassy at US President Barack Obama’s request. This year, Crocker announced he was retiring due to a serious health issue that he previously had while ambassador to Iraq.

He also ran embassies in Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria.

Crocker was in Beirut when the US embassy there was blown up in 1983, killing 63 people, including 17 US citizens. His residence in Syria was ransacked by a mob when he was ambassador there in 1998 and insurgents attacked the embassy in Kabul in September during Crocker’s service there.

He was US ambassador to Iraq from 2007 through 2009 and Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

Crocker has been on leave from his position as dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

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