UPDATE 3/18/222 – The Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney’s office returned our calls and said Kevin Coppa has officially been charged. He faces one count of operating with a high blood alcohol content, and one count of failing to stop after a collision.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (WJMN) — The Houghton County undersheriff was arrested near Traverse City for drunken driving after hitting a parked car with a truck registered to the sheriff’s department, a police report shows.
According to documents from the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office, it happened shortly before 2 a.m. March 3 at the Great Wolf Lodge along US-31, just outside Traverse City.
Security at Great Wolf Lodge told deputies that a silver truck hit an SUV in the parking lot. Security said the crash happened “erratically” and thought the driver of the truck may be impaired.
The security manager said he saw the silver truck drive into the parking lot, then reverse quickly into the SUV before parking in a spot.
When authorities ran the truck’s license plate, they found it was registered to the Houghton County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies then went to the room where the driver was believed to be staying and found him. He was later identified as Kevin Coppo. Coppo told Grand Traverse deputies that he was the undersheriff in Houghton County.
“It was apparent to me he (Coppo) was highly intoxicated,” a deputy wrote in his report, adding that Coppo was “swaying back and forth.”
The deputy added that Coppo admitted to driving back from a bar in Traverse City. When asked if he had been drunk while driving home, authorities say Coppo replied with, “I had a couple of drinks” and ranking himself a five on a subjective drunkenness scale of one to 10.
He added he drank more when he got back to his room and showed the deputy cans of alcohol. By that point, it was about half an hour after the crash.
Deputies asked Coppo if he would submit to a preliminary breath test or attempt field sobriety evaluations, but he refused.
According to the report, Coppo said something like, “If you want to take me to Jail, then just take me to Jail.”
Coppo was then arrested for operating while intoxicated.
Once in the back of the deputy’s cruiser, deputies said, Coppo began speaking freely about the incident. He was advised of his rights to remain silent and was read his Miranda rights. He kept talking and said he had been drinking with different people after getting back to the resort, going from room to room and drinking around 12 drinks, deputies said.
At 2:53 a.m., about an hour after the crash, Coppo agreed to take a breath test. He was then taken to the Grand Traverse County Jail.
At 3:38 a.m. and 3:41 a.m., Coppo took the breath tests to show his blood alcohol content level. Deputies said the results came back as .23 and .24, respectively.
The legal limit for driving in Michigan is .08.
On March 10, the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office announced Coppo’s post of undersheriff had been filled by someone else temporarily. It said the incident out of Grand Traverse County required further investigation and processing in and by that county. The Houghton County Sheriff’s Office said it couldn’t release more information because it is a personnel matter.