Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke has denied a police report claim he tried to flee the scene of a drunken car accident in 1998.
During Friday’s debate between O’Rourke and US Senator Ted Cruz, the Senate hopeful contradicted police reports when asked if he had attempted to flee before being arrested for drunk driving.
‘I did not try to leave the scene of the accident,’ O’Rourke said. ‘Though driving drunk, which I did, is a terrible mistake for which there is no excuse or justification or defense.’
O’Rourke has been vocal of the accident while vying to unseat Senator Cruz.
However, earlier this month the Houston Chronicle obtained copies of the police report that included a witness statement with the detail the then-26-year-old tried to flee.
Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke denied trying to flee the scene of crash during Friday’s debate against Senator Ted Cruz
They show O’Rourke was found drunk after losing control of his car on Interstate 10 and hitting a truck. Nobody was hurt in the accident in Anthony, Texas, about 20 miles from El Paso.
A witness told police that O’Rourke tried to drive away, but the witness stopped him until officers arrived.
The witness also said that O’Rourke had been driving at ‘a high rate of speed.’
O’Rourke had just turned 26 when the arrest happened. He did a court-ordered diversion program and a drunken-driving charge was dismissed.
According to police, O’Rourke recorded a 0.136 and 0.134 on breathalyzers, above a blood-alcohol level of 0.10, Texas’ legal limit for driving at the time
A police report shows a witness told officers the then-26-year-old tried to flee, which O’Rourke denied Friday (pictured at the first of three debates)
O’Rourke has talked publicly bout the 1998 arrest while campaigning to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
But stories about the arrest earlier in the campaign did not include details such of the crash and the reported attempt to flee.
Friday’s debate was the first time O’Rourke addressed that detail.
‘I can only tell you that I was able to have a second chance in my life,’ he responded to the moderator’s question. ‘I was able to start a small business with good friends in El Paso, was able to meet [my wife] Amy on a blind date before Tinder.’
‘I’ve made the most that I could with my second chance and my opportunity,’ he continued. ‘What I do know is that as a white man in this country, there is a privilege that I enjoy that many African-American men and women do not.
‘They do not have that second chance, they’re forced to check that box on an employment application form that makes it harder for them to get a job,’ he said.
O’Rourke has been vocal of the accident but never spoke on that detail