A suspected drunken driver sideswiped a Philadelphia police cruiser and crashed into a concrete pole Saturday morning, causing the driver's gold Toyota Camry to catch fire, police said.

The incident was the third involving a suspected drunken driver and a Philadelphia police cruiser in three weeks.

The latest accident occurred about 6:55 a.m. in the 3900 block of Whitaker Avenue, where the police cruiser was parked in the median with its emergency lights on.

The driver, who was not immediately identified, continued traveling down Whitaker at a high rate of speed after striking the cruiser, police said. The driver's vehicle, after hitting the concrete pole, then bounced back into a telephone pole.

Police said that the driver's breath smelled of alcohol and that he had glassy eyes. They also found a plastic zipper bag containing a white powder inside his car.

Officers removed the driver from the vehicle as it caught fire, police said.

The driver had a broken leg and was taken to Episcopal Hospital. The officer was not injured.

On Jan. 24, an officer assigned to construction detail was in his cruiser at Broad and Tioga Streets in North Philadelphia when a vehicle slammed into it, police said. The officer was taken to Temple University Hospital for minor injuries.

The following day, an officer was hospitalized after a driver rear-ended his parked cruiser in the unit block of North 52d Street in West Philadelphia. The officer was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for pain to his back and knee.


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