HOUSTON (AP) — Two Houston police officers remained hospitalized Monday but were expected to recover after a drunken driver crashed into their patrol vehicle, causing it to burst into flames, the city's police chief said.
John Daily, the more seriously injured officer, will remain sedated for the next few days as he suffered burns on roughly 50 percent of his body, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
Daily has already undergone at least one surgery and was expected to have several more in the next few days. His father, Owen Daily, told reporters his son was "going to be in for a long battle" but that he would "get through this."
Officer Alonzo Reid suffered some minor burns but he was alert and walking and "in great spirits," Acevedo said during a Monday afternoon news conference.
"Luckily nobody died in this crash," Acevedo said. "We're calling it a Christmas miracle."
Police identified the allegedly intoxicated driver as 23-year-old Cesar Collazo. He has been charged with four felonies: two counts of failure to stop and render aid and two counts of intoxication assault with serious bodily injury on a public servant.
Acevedo said Collazo might have been on a beer run when he crashed into the officers.
Collazo, who wasn't hurt in the crash, remained jailed on Monday. Court records didn't list an attorney for him.
Both officers were responding to a call early Monday with their SUV's lights and sirens on when another vehicle turned in front of them, causing a near head-on collision.
Acevedo said Reid, who was the passenger in the SUV, pulled himself to safety as the vehicle burst into flames.
The chief said that Reid, along with a passerby, rescued Daily from the burning SUV.
Daily and Reid, who are each 25 years old and have been officers since October 2017, were lucky to make it out of their vehicle, which was flipped over and almost unrecognizable after the fire, authorities said.
"He said he just wanted to get his partner out of the car," Lisa Malone, Reid's mother, said of her son. "I'm just glad my son is all right."
Acevedo said there were two other incidents overnight in which Houston drivers suspected of drinking crashed into police officers.
The chief and the parents of both officers urged area residents not to drink and drive, particularly during the Christmas holiday.
"Drinking and driving, it never pays off. We really need to get this under control, said Owen Daily.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70