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PALM COAST, FL – The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office responded to a traffic crash on Saturday, October 31, just before 1:00 a.m. at 5243 Old Kings Road North in Palm Coast. A silver vehicle had heavy front end damage and was on fire. The vehicle had struck a City of Palm Coast street sweeper causing approximately $10,000 in damages.
Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Watch Commander Jason Neat arrived on scene and saw a male and female attempting to pull the unresponsive driver, a Hispanic male, from the vehicle. The driver was trapped in the driver’s seat with the steering wheel pressing down on his legs and waist from the impact of the crash and the vehicle was on fire. Commander Neat and the witness were eventually able to pull the driver from the burning vehicle. Deputy Gonzalez then used his agency fire extinguisher to attack the flames while waiting for Palm Coast Fire Department to arrive. Another passenger of the vehicle was also on scene with blood on his face and appeared disoriented from the crash.
The driver of the vehicle was later identified as 28-year-old Ari Waffle. Waffle asked deputies if he could return to his vehicle to retrieve his shoes. Deputies would not allow this, as the vehicle was actively on fire. Waffle was unsteady on his feet and made statements that he was intoxicated. Deputies asked Waffle if he would be willing to complete field sobriety exercises and he agreed.
Waffle was not able to successfully complete any of the field sobriety exercises he attempted and then told deputies that he would not perform any additional exercises without his lawyer present.
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“Commander Neat, the other deputies and the witness likely saved this man’s life,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Now he is sitting in the Green Roof Inn, hopefully contemplating his decision to drive impaired and putting himself, his passengers, and all of the other people traveling on our roads at risk. They are all lucky to be alive.”
Deputies had probable cause to believe that Waffle was impaired beyond his ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Waffle was taken into custody and charged with Driving Under the Influence with Property Damage or Personal Injury. He was booked into the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility where he is being held on a $2,500 bond.