An Arizona man has been arrested on suspicion of hitting and biting a firefighter who tried to help the man after a rollover crash south of Hesperus.
Joe Benally, 20, was released on bail Friday from La Plata County Jail. He is suspected of three counts of felony assault and obstructing police and firefighters.
Benally, of Lukachukai, Arizona, was one of three occupants in a car that ran off the road and rolled at 3:37 p.m. Thursday in the 20600 block of La Plata Highway (Colorado Highway 140), about four miles south of Hesperus.
The occupants initially tried to leave the scene of the crash, but firefighters and the Colorado State Patrol kept them on scene, said Dan Bender, spokesman for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.
When a sheriff’s deputy arrived, the state patrol had the driver in custody, and the two other occupants were sitting on the side of the road, including Benally, Bender said. Firefighters attempted to check on Benally, and when they did, Benally started punching the firefighters, Bender said.
“Benally also bit one of the firefighters, causing the firefighter’s hand to bleed,” he wrote in an email to the Herald.
The firefighter works with Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District. Efforts to reach someone with the department were unsuccessful Friday night.
Benally also fought with the sheriff’s deputy and state patrol trooper when they tried to control him and place him in handcuffs, Bender said.
The sheriff’s deputy took Benally to Mercy Regional Medical Center for observations. Once there, he told three deputies he knew where they lived and would do a drive-by shooting of their houses, Bender said.
After being checked by the emergency room, he was taken to jail.
The Colorado State Patrol did not return a phone call Friday seeking information about the roll-over crash, including possible charges against the driver.