Fireman charged after hitting home

Man faces possible discharge from Coast Guard for incident

Posted: Friday, March 31, 2000

The Coast Guard firefighter who drove a vehicle into a Coast Guard residence earlier this month has been charged by the Juneau Police Department.

Fireman Patrick Hernandez, 20, has been charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of reckless driving, said police Sgt. Tom Wehnes.

Hernandez was at the wheel of another man's Chevy Blazer about 3 a.m. March 12 when he drove it into the front door of the vehicle owner's residence, police said.

Neither of the two passengers was injured, but the vehicle owner - one of the passengers - reported the collision to police as a hit-and-run.

The police anticipated charging Hernandez with drunken driving, but lacked sufficient evidence, Wehnes said. ``All we had was a report that he was intoxicated and his admission that he was intoxicated,'' he said.

Hernandez, who continues on active duty, may also face Coast Guard charges. The Coast Guard has now concluded its investigation of the incident, which caused $3,000 damage to a Coast Guard residence on Albatross Avenue.

Hernandez will be brought to nonjudicial punishment, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Ray Massey. That means a senior captain will hold a hearing to decide Hernandez' fate, he said.

``The command is recommending an administrative discharge. ... If you are an E-2 (Hernandez' grade) and have over two years in and have an alcohol-related incident, this is what we recommend,'' he said.

``This is not good for people who want to make a career of the Coast Guard,'' Massey added.

After the hearing, all recommendations will go to Coast Guard headquarters, which will make the final decision.

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