Local man charged with DUI, driving while suspended

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Fort Scott man accused of drunken driving appeared in court on Wednesday, charged with driving under the influence and driving with suspended license.

Thomas J. Heffernan, 47, has been charged with one count of felony driving under the influence and a misdemeanor count of driving with suspended license. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 90 days in jail and a $1,500 fine and maximum time of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

The Bourbon County attorney filed the charges on May 24, but Heffernan was summoned on Wednesday to face the charges. He told the court he will hire his own council. Heffernan's next court date is June 20.

On Feb. 24, Heffernan was driving west on U.S. Highway 54 near the intersection of 255th Street in east Bourbon County when he approached a vehicle that was slowing down to turn south on 255th Street. Heffernan was driving a white 2007 Chevrolet Silverado at a high rate of speed when he approached the turning vehicle, which was a 1992 Chevrolet Blazer occupied by Bobbie Sroud, 29, her husband Travis Sroud, 28, and their 4-year-old daughter, according to the Bourbon County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said Heffernan swerved to avoid slamming into the Sroud's vehicle, but when he swerved to the left, his vehicle exited the highway and started to slide across 255th. The truck entered a ditch at the southwest corner of the intersection, then struck a mound of dirt near the roadway, causing it to flip and roll several times.

Heffernan was partially ejected, with his body hanging out of the passenger side window, according to the sheriff's officials. He was taken to the University of Kansas Medical Center, where he was in critical condition. Heffernan has since recovered from the injuries.

Authorities said his blood alcohol level was tested at well above the .08 legal limit in Kansas.