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Single Father of Five Faces 16 Years

Drunk driver pleads guilt to hit-and-run accident that permanently injured police officer.

Guillermo Escobar, a single father of five children, faces up to 16 years in prison.

Escobar pleaded guilty Tuesday, June 28 to driving under the influence, failure to stop after an accident, and the unlawful wounding of Lt. R.C. Hargus, who was injured while helping a motorist on Richmond Highway Feb. 24.

Defense attorney Joel Skirble called Escobar's crime an "aberration" for his client, who had no prior convictions or criminal record.

Prosecuting attorney Kathryn S. Swart requested that Escobar's $30,000 bond be revoked and that he be sent directly to jail.

Escobar, 41, of Audubon Avenue, is scheduled to be sentenced later this summer.

<b>HARGUS WAS HELPING</b> a motorist, who had been involved in a minor traffic accident on Richmond Highway at Memorial Street, as a light snow fell to the ground Feb. 24, 2005 at approximately 10:30 p.m.

"He placed his cruiser on the shoulder," Swart said. He had his cruiser lights flashing and was setting flares at the scene. "This defendant was driving a pick-up truck down Richmond Highway," she said.

"A green pickup truck traveling southbound on Rte. 1 struck Lt. Hargus, struck the rear of the cruiser and subsequently pushed the cruiser into the disabled vehicle," according to court records. Hargus was thrown west of the roadway.

A witness observed the accident, called police and followed Escobar, who had left the scene.

Within minutes, Swart said, police located Escobar nearby, on Dorset Street according to court records. Blood was discovered on the front of Escobar's truck, according to Swart. Escobar failed a field sobriety test and admitted to police that he had hit the officer, she said.

His blood-alcohol level was tested at 0.11, according to Swart. The legal limit in Virginia is 0.08.

Although the officer's "leg healed better than everyone thought it would," Swart said the officer has permanent nerve damage.

Escobar was originally charged with DWI maiming and hit-and-run.

According to a Fairfax County Police press release, Randall C. Hargus was promoted to second lieutenant during a ceremony on Wednesday, March 16.

<b>INSIDE THE COURTROOM,</b> Skirble said he "hopes to amplify the facts of my client's life" to show the night of Feb. 24 was an "aberration."

"This is the first conviction for my client," Skirble said, of Escobar who has lived in the United States for 18 years. "He has no record. He is a single father supporting five children."

He requested that Escobar be allowed to remain free on bond until his sentencing date.

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Arthur B. Vieregg Jr. revoked Escobar’s bond, and ordered the involvement of Child and Protective Services.

Escobar faces up to 10 years for failing to stop after the accident, up to five years for unlawful wounding and up to 12 months for driving while under the influence.

Outside the courtroom, Skirble declined the opportunity to comment on Escobar and what will happen to his family. Skirble said he will present a "fuller picture" of Escobar at his sentencing this summer.