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Driver Punches Firefighter Trying To Help Him

A Clearwater firefighter who tried to assist a man in a three-vehicle wreck Wednesday was punched by the vehicle’s driver, the Clearwater Police Department said.

Gary Steven Cook punched Clearwater Fire Inspector Ron Neuberger when Neuberger reached into Cook’s truck to make certain the ignition was turned off, police said. Neuberger wasn’t injured.

At around 4:30 p.m., Cook was involved in a crash with two other vehicles on the southbound lane of Myrtle Avenue just north of Court Street in Clearwater.

After the crash, Cook tried to drive off, but the two cars involved in the minor wreck were in front of him and he couldn’t drive forward. Cook continued to press on the accelerator, causing the tire to burn up and it caused a hole several inches deep in the pavement, police said.

Cook of Palm Harbor was charged with battery on a firefighter and driving under the influence. He has three prior DUI convictions, police said.

The southbound lanes of Myrtle Avenue were closed for several hours as work crews sealed the hole caused by Cook’s driving, police said.
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