AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – There are still questions surrounding Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s drunk driving crash near El Paso 20 years ago.
During the first debate at SMU last month, the Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate denied he tried to flee the scene of the accident he caused in 1998 before he was arrested for DWI.
“I did not try to leave the scene of the accident, though driving drunk which I did is a terrible mistake for which there is no excuse or justification or defense and I will not try to provide one.”
O’Rourke contradicted the responding Anthony, Texas police officer, Richard Carrera, who wrote in the report what a witness had told him.
Carrera said, “…the defendant/driver attempted to leave the scene, the reporter then turned his over head lights to warn oncoming traffic and try to get the defendant to stop…”
The report says O’Rourke’s vehicle “lost control and struck a truck…” and then “sent the defendant’s vehicle across the center median…”
The officer goes onto say, “the defendant was unable to be understood due to slurred speech..”, that the “…defendant also had glassy eyes…”, and that “I then asked the driver/defendant to step out of the vehicle, upon doing so the defendant almost fell to the floor…”
The documents show O’Rourke told police he had consumed two beers.
The officer says the “defendant blew a .136 and a .134, which was over the legal limit back then of .10.
No one was injured in the crash.
The report does not identify the witness and O’Rourke was not charged with attempting to leave the scene.
CBS 11 is still in the process of trying to locate the officer.
After the first debate, the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker gave O’Rourke’s denial a four Pinocchio’s, saying in part, “Given his blood alcohol content at the time of the crash, O’Rourke’s memory 20 years after the fact is not nearly as credible as the police reports written just hours after the crash…”
On Saturday, O’Rourke was asked about the situation again by the Texas Tribune.
O’Rourke said, “I did not flee. The police report on this count is wrong. I reached out to the passenger who was in the car I was driving and who does not appear in the police report, among other factual errors, someone I have not spoken to in more than 15 years, and asked her recollection and she said no, we were in the median of the road, we did not try to flee. I don’t know there was anywhere we could have gone.”
O’Rourke didn’t identify the woman in the car with him.
El Paso County court records show after completing a pre-trial diversion program, prosecutors dismissed the DWI charge against O’Rourke.
SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says, “It’s a misstep for the O’Rourke campaign.”
Jillson says the continued questions about the incident could pose a problem for O’Rourke, who finds himself in a close race for U.S. Senate against incumbent Ted Cruz. “A four Pinocchio’s is a big lie, right? And so he’s in a position now that his whole campaign hinges on his energy, his personality, his youthful dynamism and people’s response to that and if he gets caught in a direct lie, that really hurts the feel of his campaign.”
CBS 11 went to Austin Tuesday morning with the hope of asking O’Rourke more about the accident following a rally he held at Austin Community College, but O’Rourke left immediately following his appearance.
His campaign said he was trying to catch a flight.
An O’Rourke campaign spokesman did not return our call and text Tuesday afternoon.