Alliance police officer dragged by hit-and-run driver

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ALLIANCE, Ohio – An Alliance police officer said he was dragged by a suspected drunk driver who hit his car in a Taco Bell drive-thru Tuesday morning before taking off. The officer was uninjured and the driver, 31 year-old Gina Gibson, of Alliance, is now facing a hit-skip charge.

“I've never had that happen before at the Taco Bell drive thru,” Alliance Police Patrolman Tye Lauener said. “I mean, it is a late night hangout for people that have been consuming alcohol.”

Lauener said he had just finished his shift around 12:30 a.m. Still in uniform, he drove his personal vehicle through the Taco Bell drive-thru on West State Street. Lauener was in line for food when he said he felt his SUV move after the car behind him hit his rear bumper. He checked his backup camera and said the car was touching the bumper, so he approached Gibson.

“I said, ‘did you know you hit me?’ And she stated she didn’t, and I said, ‘well, you did.’”

He said Gibson identified herself, and while she initially denied it, he suspected she had been drinking alcohol because of her confusion and glassy eyes. As he called for backup, Lauener said Gibson hopped a curb to drive away. The off-duty officer tried to grab her keys and said he was carried more than 80 feet across an adjacent open lot.

“I was trying to turn the vehicle off, hopefully get her stopped, and I let go before I knew it was going to get too dangerous,” he said.

Police tracked down Gibson at a friend's house around 8:15 a.m. and ultimately arrested her for hit-skip. According to the police report, Gibson was cooperative and confessed. The report states she told investigators she was scared at the time because she'd been drinking beer beforehand.

“She turned something minor into something much more major,” Lauener said.  “She could've hurt herself, she could've hurt me. She could've hurt anybody, and it's just not a good idea.”

Lauener’s vehicle was not damaged. Gibson posted bond and was released pending her court appearance. She declined to comment, via a family member, when reached at home Tuesday.