Police: Drunk passenger grabs wheel, car strikes two pedestrians

Two pedestrians were in serious condition Sunday and a car’s passenger was booked on a count of DWI after the passenger yanked the steering wheel, sending the car barreling into the two men before it crashed into a gas station, police say.

Murray Tate, 51, was intoxicated when he became furious with the car’s driver and threatened to “fix” her as they sat waiting for a light to change shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday, said Cpl. Don Coppola, a Baton Rouge Police spokesman.

While they crossed Florida Boulevard heading north on North Ardenwood Drive, Tate reached over from the front passenger seat and jerked the steering wheel three short times — and that sent the Chevrolet Impala off the road and through a grassy area, where it hit the two pedestrians, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

From there, the car drove through a parking lot and slammed into the wall of a nearby gas station.

The two pedestrians were taken to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center with serious injuries. Coppola said Sunday they are expected to live.

Tate registered a 0.201 percent on a blood-alcohol content test — more than two times the legal limit of 0.08 percent — and struck an officer in the forehead while being arrested, the affidavit says.

Tate, of 1080 N. Ardenwood Drive, Baton Rouge, was booked on a count of second-offense DWI. He was booked on DWI because even though he wasn’t in the driver’s seat, he took control of the vehicle in the moments leading to the crash, Coppola said.

Tate also was booked on counts of reckless operation, vehicular negligent injuring, resisting a police officer with force or violence and battery of a police officer.