Ronald Durham: Punta Gorda drunk driving suspect smashes into 2 helicopters, 2 parked cars

Nearby business damaged too

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - (WBBH/NBC) A man in Punta Gorda is accused of driving drunk and crashing into multiple vehicles, including two helicopters. 

One of the helicopters is worth a $500,000.  

Vietnam veteran and auto mechanic, Bill Gard, has been working on restoring his rare UH-1 Huey Seawolf chopper for the past five years.

"Yeah, I guess it's a labor of love. One day I got into it and I 'm still doing it," said Gard.

This week Gard was faced with a major setback - something that was out of his control.

Ronald Durham is accused of driving drunk and slamming into Gard's beloved helicopter.  Durham was reportedly behind the wheel of a truck traveling north on US-17 when it veered off the road. The truck plowed through a chain link fence and right into two parked cars and two helicopters.

One of the helicopters was Gard's baby. He says in proper working order, the chopper values at $500,000.  Nearby business owner Concetta Clock say Durham damaged some of their property as well.

"He came by and said, ‘Would you like your mailbox cover?' And I said ‘Well, why do you have it.' And he explained his story of how it ended up on the windshield of a car he had on his property," explained Clock.

Deputies say they found a cold 12-pack of Natural Light Beer in the truck with Durham; four of them were missing.  Durham is also charged with operating a vehicle without a license. According to deputies, he's never had one.

Damages aside, Gard is just glad no one was seriously hurt.

"It might be a classic or something. But someone's life - that could've been someone's kid. They're up and down this road all the time, ladies pushing baby carriages and you name it," said Gard.

As of Thursday afternoon, Durham was in jail on a $55,000 bond.

Courtesy: NBC News Channel


Comments