Former U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker charged with drunken driving

OLYMPIA, Washington Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:03pm EDT

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (L) shakes hands with former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker before departing Kabul International Airport June 7, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Watson/Pool

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (L) shakes hands with former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker before departing Kabul International Airport June 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Watson/Pool

OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan Ryan Crocker is facing drunken driving and hit-and-run charges in Washington state after his vehicle collided with a truck last week, authorities said on Thursday.

Crocker, who stepped down from his job as ambassador to Afghanistan earlier this year because of ill health, recorded twice the legal limit when he took a blood alcohol breath test after the accident last week, State Trooper Troy Briggs said.

After sitting at a red light in Spokane in eastern Washington on the afternoon of August 14, Crocker attempted to make a right turn from the left lane when he collided with a truck, he said.

"He tried to make it in front of the truck, but didn't quite make it," Briggs said.

Crocker, whose attorney could not immediately be reached for comment, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, court officials said.

After the accident, Crocker drove away and was followed by another driver for several miles before pulling into the parking lot of a bank, where state patrol officers arrested him, Briggs said.

Crocker, who was driving a 2009 Ford Mustang convertible, appeared to be intoxicated when officers approached him, Briggs said. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after taking the breath test, he added.

Born in Spokane, the career diplomat received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian award, in 2009. He came out of retirement to take the demanding Kabul post in July 2011. He previously served as ambassador in Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon.

Crocker is next due in court for a pre-trial hearing on September 12 at Spokane County District Court, court officials said.

(Editing by Mary Slosson, Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)

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