Dps Officer In Coma Following Accident

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A Department of Public Safety officer injured in an alcohol-related hit-and-run accident Aug. 18 underwent surgery this weekend and is in a drug-induced coma.

Charlie Hopkins, 22, remains in very critical condition at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, said DPS Public Information Officer Frank Valenzuela.

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DPS officer Charlie Hopkins

Hopkins sustained severe fractures to his left leg, hand and wrist, and damaged the seventh, eighth and ninth vertebrae, Valenzuela said. The young man also has pneumonia.

"He has a large gash on the back of his head and there is swelling of the brain," Valenzuela said. He explained that doctors want Hopkins in the coma until the brain swelling stops.

"Until that happens, they really can't determine how much, if any, brain damage he suffered," he said.

When Hopkins was admitted to the emergency room, however, medical personnel backed off the anesthesia and the officer exhibited some coherency about his location, and an ability to move his arms and legs, Valenzuela said.

On Aug. 18, 2005, at about 9:35 p.m. officers of the Payson Police Department responded to a report of a pedestrian accident on Highway 87 just north of the intersection of BIA/101, the intersection that regulates traffic into the Mazatzal Casino area, according to a formal statement released by PPD Chief Gordon Gartner.

Officers discovered a critically injured individual lying in a ditch on the east side.

Medical personnel responded to the scene and the injured pedestrian, who was later identified as Department of Public Safety officer Charlie Hopkins, was subsequently transported via helicopter to Good Samaritan.

The vehicle that struck Hopkins, who was walking northbound on the sidewalk on Highway 87, fled the scene.

A witness provided the police department with a description of the suspect's vehicle. Officers from the Payson Police Department, as well as officers from the Tonto Apache Police Department and security personnel from the Mazatzal Casino had been involved in a confrontation a half hour earlier with suspects who fit the provided descriptions.

Casino security and officers refused to allow the suspects into the casino because they showed signs of intoxication.

Officers identified one of the individuals as Reed Hatch, 22, of Payson, who was ordered not to drive home.

Hatch was instead escorted onto a casino-owned vehicle and taken to the shuttle bus parked near the entrance of the casino.

Subsequent investigation revealed that Hatch did not board the shuttle bus and left the casino driving northbound. Upon Hatch's exit from the parking lot, casino security called the Payson Police Department and reported Hatch's intoxicated condition.

After the accident, PPD officers were dispatched to a residence Hatch is known to frequent, and discovered his vehicle in the driveway.

Officers said they found extensive damage to the vehicle while Hatch made statements supporting accounts that he was the driver.

Hatch was arrested and charged him with two felonies: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and leaving the scene of an injury accident.

Officers of the Department of Public Safety's Vehicle Crimes Unit and officers from the Special Investigation Unit are assisting the Payson Police Department.

Hatch is currently in custody with a $25,000 bond.

Charlie Hopkins was identified as a DPS cadet in an earlier Payson Roundup article. Hopkins graduated from the police academy Aug. 5. He was participating in the DPS's seven-week, post-academy advanced basic training, Valenzuela said. Hopkins was among the law enforcement personnel assisting with Calf Pen Canyon marijuana bust north of Strawberry.

Hopkins is from Laveen, Ariz., has been married for three years and has an 8-month old daughter.

See related story:


Hit-and-run driver injures DPS cadet (Aug. 19)

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