Ladder Truck vs Motorcycle; Calif. Firefighter Faces DUI

July 2, 2013
The San Francisco firefighter, suspended without pay, had a blood alcohol level of .13 two hours after the wreck.

July 02--A San Francisco firefighter who allegedly drove a ladder truck into a motorcyclist while drunk and left the scene faces possible charges of felony driving under the influence and hit-and-run, authorities said Monday.

Michael Quinn, 43, of San Francisco was arrested more than two hours after the crash at 11:34 p.m. Saturday at Fifth and Howard streets, authorities said. He was released from jail at midday Sunday after posting $65,000 bail.

Prosecutors say they expect police to present a case to them Tuesday for possible charges.

Quinn, who has been with the Fire Department for more than 20 years, was suspended without pay, said department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge.

Quinn works at Station 1 at 935 Folsom St. On Saturday night, he was driving a ladder truck with emergency lights flashing and the siren blaring, responding to what turned out to be a false alarm.

Police did not release details of the crash. However, sources with knowledge of the incident said the accident happened as Quinn was driving the ladder truck north on Fifth Street, crossing Howard. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the matter publicly.

The rig had just entered the intersection when it hit the motorcycle headed west on Howard. The rider was thrown 75 feet and suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung, sources said.

The motorcyclist was hospitalized in serious condition but was expected to survive. His name has not been released.

The fire truck stopped after the crash. Quinn was told to remain at the scene to provide a statement and take a drug and alcohol screening test, sources said.

He left, however, and returned to the firehouse two hours later, the sources said.

Police arrested Quinn there. His lawyer, Jim Bustamante, could not be reached for comment.

Quinn's blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.13 percent, above the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent, the sources said.

The Fire Department has a history of allegations of on-duty drinking, which former Mayor Gavin Newsom once called its "dirty little secret."

The problem last made headlines in 2005, when a 26-year veteran allegedly showed up drunk at headquarters but was allowed to leave in a Fire Department car. The department imposed random drug and alcohol tests after the incident.

Jaxon Van Derbeken is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: [email protected]

Copyright 2013 - San Francisco Chronicle

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