Police didn't check WAPA official's sobriety after crash

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ST. THOMAS - V.I. Police did not administer a sobriety test for WAPA Chief Operating Officer Gregory Rhymer after he crashed into two parked cars during a late night drive down Bunker Hill the weekend after New Year's Day.

Rhymer, a 23-year employee of the V.I. Water and Power Authority, did receive a citation for negligent driving and failure to maintain control of his vehicle, according to V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames.

"The sobriety tests are performed on persons the officer has observed, through his training, to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs," Rames said Wednesday in an email.

Rames said that the test is performed when a driver has a strong scent of alcohol, slurred speech or difficulty standing or walking straight.

The officer who responded to the incident did not notice any signs of intoxication, Rames said. She did not name the officer who made the determination.

When the incident occurred is somewhat unclear, as discrepancies exist between WAPA officials and the police about the timing of the accident.

On Tuesday, WAPA spokeswoman Jerain Fleming said that the accident took place about 11 p.m. Jan. 3.

However, Rames said Wednesday afternoon that the incident occurred at 1:25 a.m. Jan. 4. Earlier Wednesday, Rames initially said that police first heard of the incident at 2:25 p.m. Jan. 4.

The V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency police blotter, which tracks calls to emergency dispatchers and the times they are made, had no record of the incident at all.

According to police, Rhymer said he was trying to avoid a person who walked into the road when he crashed.

Rames did not answer questions about whether the person was seen at the scene of the accident.

Fleming said that no persons, including Rhymer, were injured.

The WAPA vehicle, a blue Jeep Wrangler with license tag W&P 38, sustained damage, but it is expected to return to service in the near future.

Neither Fleming nor Rames said that they knew what kind of damage the other vehicles sustained.

A "traffic investigation" revealed that Rhymer was traveling down Bunker Hill when he hit the left rear of the first vehicle, which was parked on the western side of the road, according to police.

That vehicle was pushed into the back of the second parked vehicle causing it to strike a wall, and Rhymer's vehicle continued moving before striking the front of the second vehicle, according to police.

It is not yet known the extent to which WAPA's insurance will cover the damage to the WAPA Jeep or the other two vehicles.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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