Retired Henrico cop arrested for DUI after hitting construction worker

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A construction worker is recovering in the hospital after he was hit while working on Interstate 295.

Virginia State Police say Robert Harrison was hit around 12:50 a.m. Thursday on I-295 at Nuckols Road in Henrico County.

Police have charged 55-year-old John R. Tucker the Third with DUI and refusal to take a breathalyzer test, as well as a refusing to give a blood alcohol sample.

Tucker is out of jail after posting $1,000 bond. A hearing is set for July 16 in Henrico County.

NBC12 has learned that Tucker is a retired police officer with the Henrico County Police Department. We have also confirmed that he was returning home from another police officer's retirement party.

Henrico Police Human Resources confirms that Tucker worked for the force as a police officer from November 7, 1979 to September 7, 2004, which is almost 25 years of experience. We are told he reached eligibility for retirement and he was never a supervisor with the department. It is unclear at this point if there were any disciplinary problems on Tucker's record with the department.

Crews were out repaving 295 south around 12:45 Thursday morning. That's when state police say Tucker ignored the coned off right and center lanes, as he entered the highway from Nuckols Road.

"It's the responsibility of the driver to be mindful and pay attention to the coned off area," says Sgt. Thomas Molnar with the Virginia State Police.

The injured worker, Harrison, was working for VDOT last night. "Contractors or not, they are family. They are highway workers they are working on our highways," says Taya Jarman with VDOT.

NBC12 has obtained a copy of a search warrant issued in the accident involving Tucker. According to the document, a Virginia State Trooper "immediately smelled the odor of alcohol from [Tucker's] person."

In addition, the trooper noted, "his eyes were bloodshot and glassy, and his speech was slurred. He was unsteady on his feet."

According to the same document, the trooper noted Tucker refused to take a breathalyzer test, and declined to give a blood sample after he arrived at the Henrico County Jail.

This accident comes on the heels of a similar one in May. That's when police say 48-year-old Meta Hall was drunk, when she hit a construction worker on Interstate 64, also in a work zone.

"It is extremely unfortunate they were selfish and taking it upon themselves to travel and interrupt the work zones," says Jarman.

A source says in this morning's accident, Tucker was on his way home from a retirement party for another officer.

"If we are out there helping you, we need you to help us and the only way to do that is to pay attention when traveling," says Jarman.

VDOT says although the recent accidents are cause for concern, it will not change the decision to operate work zones at night, when fewer drivers are on the road.

The agency says every work zone is set up with safety in mind for both the drivers and workers.

VDOT tells us since this is the height of the construction season, you're going to notice a lot more pavement projects like this one, making it even more important to pay attention, especially at night.

NBC12's Andy Jenks contributed to this report.

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