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Key West politico’s son accused of DUI, leaving the scene of a crash

The son of a former Key West city commissioner leading a fight against the Lower Keys Medical Center was jailed Tuesday on allegations of driving drunk and leaving the scene of a car crash.

Robert Livingston Bethel, 34, is also facing misdemeanor charges of refusing a breath test, DUI property damage and resisting arrest.

He is the son of Harry Bethel, who worked at the FKAA for 19 years and helped start the Committee to Rescue Our Hospital, which recently called for a grand jury investigation of Key West’s only hospital.

Robert Bethel at midday Friday remained at the jail on Stock Island on $15,000 bond, facing a felony charge of failure to remain at the scene of a crash and four misdemeanors related to the Tuesday 4:45 p.m. crash in New Town.

Michael Wydysh said he was stopped at a stop sign on Duck Avenue at 15th Street when a silver Honda SUV struck his vehicle from behind.

Bethel walked away, making it about one block, but Wydysh and his passenger, Brandon James Crabill, chased after him and brought him back to the scene, according to the incident report.

“A short struggle ensued between Bethel and the occupants of the victim vehicle,” wrote Officer Jesse Young.

After Key West police arrived, Bethel tried to flee the scene twice and was finally handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car, reports state. One officer had “to deliver a series of knee spikes” in order to get Bethel into the car.

Police moved the investigation to the Monroe County jail on Stock Island, where Bethel said he had diabetes — “all of them,” when asked which type, officers said.

Bethel, who police said smelled of alcohol that was “emanating from his breath,” had both his blood sugar and blood pressure tested at the crash scene. Both results were within the normal range and paramedics cleared him medically.

On Feb. 25, 2015, he was accused of running a red light on Flagler Avenue and Kennedy Drive and nearly striking a marked police cruiser.

State Attorney Catherine Vogel said nothing showed Bethel was intoxicated and allowed him to take traffic school to resolve a careless driving violation.

Bethel’s family said he was suffering a diabetic episode, after officers said Bethel was possibly impaired or drunk.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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