HCC's Atwater on DUI bust: 'No injury, no property damage'
Hillsborough Community College Kenneth Atwater released a statement Monday about his Saturday DUI arrest.
“I take this matter very seriously, have retained a personal attorney, and am confident this matter will be resolved through the legal system,” Atwater said in the statement, released by his attorney, Eddie Suarez of Tampa. “There was no accident, no one was injured and no property was damaged. As always, I remain focused on and committed to HCC, its students, our faculty and the community at large.”
What kind of disciplinary action Atwater will receive, if any, was still unclear Monday. College spokeswoman Ashley Carl said the college’s District Board of Trustees was still in the process of gathering facts about the incident.
A clause in Atwater’s contract states that he can be fired for certain types of misconduct outlined in Florida law, but it was unclear Monday if a DUI could be grounds for dismissal.
Atwater’s calendar showed two entries for Saturday afternoon, before he was pulled over. The first was an invitation for the HCC Foundation’s Pirate Fest at the college’s administrative offices on Davis Islands. The second was an invitation to Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s tent along the Gasparilla parade route.
Buckhorn spokeswoman Ashley Bauman said Atwater did not check in as a guest at the tent and that no one recalls seeing him there.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Atwater, 65, crossed the right lane marker several times while driving a 2010 black Range Rover north on N Dale Mabry Highway about 10:30 p.m.
A deputy pulled the vehicle over at W Broad Street and smelled alcohol on Atwater’s breath, the Sheriff’s Office said. The deputy also noted in the arrest report that Atwater’s eyes were bloodshot and speech was slurred.
During field sobriety exercises, Atwater showed signs of impairment and refused to provide a breath sample, according to the report.
Atwater was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail and released on $500 bail about 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
Atwater has been president at HCC since July 2010. His total compensation package is worth about $385,000 a year.