Witness Places Alcohol At Senator's Crash Scene - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Witness Places Alcohol At Senator's Crash Scene

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- State Sen. Jerry Cooper was in stable condition Thursday morning at Vanderbilt University Medical Center following a car accident on Interstate 24, two miles east of Buchanan Road near mile marker 89.

The 58-year-old Democrat from Morrison was driving on Interstate 24 near Murfreesboro Wednesday night when his vehicle veered off the road, rolling several times before it stopped. A witness who stopped at the scene took pictures of the accident.

Deputies with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department said alcohol was found at the scene. Another witness, a truck driver from Georgia who stopped to help, said he saw it too.

"There was a half bottle of Jack Daniels there and there was also an open Coke can," said Lee Buchanon, the truck driver.

It's standard procedure in car crashes to draw blood from the driver, and that was likely done in this case. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating, but there was no word immediately following the incident Senator Cooper was drunk.

Tennessee Highway Patrol officials said that Cooper wore a seatbelt. He was transported by helicopter to the hospital where he was initially in critical condition. He was upgraded to stable at 8:00 a.m. Thursday.

Sen. Joe Haynes, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, was among those who visited the senator at the hospital.

"I visited the hospital this morning and spoke to Sen. Cooper's family," Haynes said in a statement released Thursday morning. "Sen. Cooper suffered no life-threatening injuries, and doctors assure his family that he will be fine. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sen. Cooper and his family, and we look forward to his speedy recovery."

The Associated Press reported Thursday morning that other lawmakers said that Cooper Democrat attended three receptions Wednesday night in Nashville. They said that Cooper attended receptions for the Tennessee Press Association and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce at the Sheraton in Nashville and a Tennessee Bankers' Association reception at the Waller Lansden Dortch law firm downtown.

House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh told the Associated Press he was at two receptions attended by Cooper. Naifeh said he didn't know whether Cooper drank alcohol at either engagement.

Cooper was indicted late last year by a federal grand jury on bank fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy charges in connection with a land deal. Senator Cooper is scheduled to go to trial this spring.

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