Grand Junction fire chief charged with drunk driving ambulance

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Thomas Michael Launderville, 39, of 305 Hager St. W., Grand Junction, was arrested on a charge of second-offense OWI early Saturday after transporting a patient in a Grand Junction Fire and Rescue ambulance while allegedly drunk..

The chief of the Grand Junction Volunteer Fire Department was arrested shortly after midnight Saturday at the Greene County Hospital in Jefferson after transporting a patient in an ambulance that he was allegedly driving drunk.

Thomas Michael Launderville, 39, of 305 Hager St. W., Grand Junction, was arrested on a charge of second-offense OWI.

According to court records, the incident began about 11:30 p.m. Friday when a Jefferson Police Officer overheard radio traffic between the Grand Junction Fire and Rescue ambulance and the Greene County Dispatch and noticed the ambulance driver appeared to be slurring his speech on the radio.

This officer met the ambulance when it arrived at the Greene County Hospital at 1000 W. Lincoln Way in Jefferson and determined the ambulance was driven by Launderville.

After assisting with the safe delivery of the patient to the staff of the hospital emergency room, the officer “turned and followed the driver back outside” and “detected the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage and noticed he was unsteady on his feet.”

The officer made contact with Launderville, who allegedly showed signs of intoxication, including “bloodshot and watery eyes,” according to court records. Asked by the officer whether he had been drinking, Launderville “advised he had consumed 3-4 beers” before driving the ambulance to Jefferson.

Launderville declined to submit to field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test at the scene and was placed under arrest and transported to the Greene County Law Enforcement Center, where he tested for a blood alcohol content of .210 percent.

Launderville was booked into the Greene County Jail. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Nov. 13 in Greene County District Court.

Launderville was convicted of first-offense OWI in Greene County District Court in October 2014.

*A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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