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Drunk driver rear-ends deputy in St. Petersburg

Published Sep. 11, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — A drunk driver who didn't stop for a red light rear-ended a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office vehicle early Tuesday, deputies said, causing a three-vehicle crash near 38th Avenue N and 34th Street N.

According to the Sheriff's Office Major Accident Investigation Team, 32-year-old Zacharian Johnson was charged with driving under the influence with property damage and not having a valid driver's license. Deputies said a breathalyzer found he had a blood alcohol content between .159 and .171, about twice the legal limit.

Around 12:49 a.m., the Sheriff's Office said Christoper Ludtke, a 26-year-old deputy with just over a year on the job, was stopped at the eastbound light of 38th Avenue N at 34th Street N in his cruiser behind a 2005 Dodge Neon driven by 28-year-old Shannon Clark. Johnson came up behind Ludtke in his 2016 Hyundai Elantra and failed to stop for the red light, striking Ludtke and pushing his cruiser into Clark's Dodge.

Ludtke was transferred to a nearby hospital with minor injuries. Clark and her passenger, 49-year-old Ernest Clark, refused treatment at the scene.

Johnson showed signs of impairment, deputies said. He was arrested after providing breath samples.

The Sheriff's Office said the investigation is ongoing.

Daniel Figueroa IV can be reached at Follow @danuscripts