ALASKA – An Alaska state trooper has been charged with drunken driving nearly two months after police say he drove a state-owned SUV into two vehicles in Eagle River, court records show.
The veteran trooper investigator, Eric Burroughs, had a blood alcohol level more than five times the legal limit to drive, even hours after the collisions, according to charges filed in court this month.
Burroughs, 44, fled from one of the accidents, leaving his front license plate at the scene, charges say.
Burroughs showed signs of impairment the night of April 8, when Anchorage police found him slumped inside the unmarked, blue Ford Explorer issued to him by troopers.
A trooper for 13 years, Burroughs is now charged with drunken driving and failing to report a collision, both misdemeanors. He has not worked since the incident and remains on paid administrative leave, collecting $3,649.50 in pay every two weeks, troopers said.
Col. Keith Mallard, the head of the troopers, said in May that the agency would conduct an internal investigation into the incident. A trooper spokeswoman declined to say Tuesday whether that investigation is under way.
Police spokeswoman Anita Shell refused to talk in detail about the case. She referred questions to the Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals. Calls to the OSPA’s director went unanswered Tuesday.
According to charges filed in court June 2, the trouble began when Burroughs was driving the Explorer on Driftwood Bay Drive and struck a Chevrolet pickup.
Police spotted tire marks that indicated Burroughs hit the accelerator after colliding with the Chevy, the charges say.
While police found a license plate from the Explorer at the site of the accident, it’s unclear what first led officers to Burroughs’ house two blocks away. The unmarked vehicle was registered under a fake name, a common practice, said Mallard, the trooper commander, in May.
When police found Burroughs just before 7 p.m. outside his home, he was still in the driver’s seat of the Explorer with his chin on his chest, charges say. The SUV had just slammed into Burroughs’ own Toyota 4Runner, according to a police report.
The Explorer’s front license plate was missing, the charges say.
The court papers say Burroughs’ eyes were closed. He only responded to police when they shook him. He was unable to perform field sobriety tests, according to the charging document.
An ambulance drove Burroughs to a hospital. After police received a search warrant for his blood, a technician drew two vials for testing at about 10:50 p.m., the charges say.
A later analysis showed more than 0.40 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, according to the court documents. The legal limit to drive is 0.08.
“By anybody’s standards, that’s a lot of alcohol on board,” said Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew, who spoke briefly about the case Tuesday.
Asked why the charges came eight weeks after police say they first found Burroughs intoxicated inside the trooper vehicle, Mew said the case hinged on lab results.
“The nature of the evidence, plus the follow-up work necessary, plus (a) change of command (at OSPA) I think all added up to making this case take a little bit longer to get through the system,” he said.
Burroughs was on the job the day of the collisions but off duty when the crashes occurred, Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Robert Gorder said in May.