Accused drunk driver said he was using phone when he slammed into officer’s cruiser

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio - A Mayfield Heights Police sergeant is recovering after his cruiser was rear-ended while responding to a crash along I-271 Wednesday night.

Investigators said the driver of a minivan traveling about 50 miles per hour slammed into two cruisers stopped near the merge lane from Mayfield Road to northbound I-271.

Sgt. Jim Steffey was sitting in the driver's seat of a cruiser totaled by the impact. The 25-year veteran of the Mayfield Heights Police Department escaped with only minor injuries and soreness. He was released from a hospital and recovering at home Thursday.

"He's doing fine," said Capt. Doug Suydam. "He was a little sore, but all-in-all we're very lucky he didn't get hurt a lot worse."

Police body camera video showed the minivan driver, 30-year-old David Soutar, of Cleveland, admitting to using his phone at the time of the crash.

"I made the stupid mistake of looking down at my phone," he told an officer.

In the video, Soutar, who said he had a previous DUI conviction, also said he had one beer at a bar beforehand.

"I just feel bad because, like, I could've f****** killed someone," he said in the video. "I feel f****** awful."

According to a police report, Soutar failed a field sobriety test and refused to give a breath sample. He was charged with Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated and approaching a stationary public safety vehicle.

A second cruiser was also damaged when the impact of the crash pushed Steffey's cruiser forward. Another officer was outside of that vehicle at the time and wasn't hurt.

Police said the incident is a stark reminder for drivers to pay attention on the roads and watch out for law enforcement.

"It's dangerous for our officers," Suydam said. "Just be careful, pay attention. Slow down, and be careful."