Another driver is found passed out in drive-thru

OKEECHOBEE — For some reason, McDonald’s seems to be the “place to go” when one wants to take a nap in the early morning hours, and once again, a motorist was arrested after being found passed out in the drive-thru. On Saturday, June 29, at 1:10 a.m., Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office received a call requesting assistance from Okeechobee Police Officer Luis Rojas after he reportedly found William Gaither Shepherd III, 25, of Northeast 30th Avenue, passed out behind the steering wheel of his 2018 Kia SUV in the drive-thru of the McDonald’s on Northeast Park Street.

Upon arrival, Deputy Steven Pollock reportedly found the vehicle in the travel lane of the drive-thru. The driver’s foot was on the brake, with the engine running and the transmission in drive. When Deputy Pollock approached, he saw an open can of Bud Light in the center console. The driver was reportedly slumped forward with both hands holding his cellphone. For everyone’s safety, Deputy Ott put the vehicle in park and turned off the engine before attempting to wake up Shepherd. When the deputy tried to awaken him, Shepherd kept pushing buttons on his phone as if he were trying to text someone, the report states.

The report notes, when the deputy was finally able to get Shepherd’s attention, his eyes appeared bloodshot and watery and his words were slurred. There was also a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. After field sobriety tests were attempted, he was arrested and charged with DUI. Bond was set at $500.

Shepherd is not the first to take a nap in the McDonald’s drive-thru lane. In recent years, there seems to be a trend.

According to an arrest report by Deputy DeMarcus Dixon, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), at 3:33 a.m. Dec. 23, 2017, he responded to McDonald’s located in the 4100 block of U.S. 441 South in regard to a call for service. Upon his arrival, Deputy Dixon saw a black, four-door Dodge pickup truck in the drive-thru line operated by a white male, who was passed out in the driver’s seat. The truck was blocking the drive-thru, preventing the restaurant from serving other customers.

Deputy Dixon stated that the truck was still running and the driver’s window was down. Deputy Nathaniel Mitchell reached inside of the truck and shut the engine off. Deputy Dixon reportedly recorded Deputy Mitchell’s attempt to wake the driver. After multiple attempts to wake him, the driver became alert to their presence. The man appeared confused, lethargic and had the odor of alcohol coming from his breath.

Deputy Mitchell reportedly asked the man to present his driver’s license multiple times but he only gave the deputy a power inverter and a $100 bill. The report noted the man was supposedly not aware of his surroundings or the lawful commands given to him and appeared impaired.

A 26-year-old Okeechobee woman was arrested in January 2018 when, according to an arrest report by Deputy Steven Pollock, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), at 1:58 a.m. on Jan. 5, he responded to the McDonald’s located in the 4100 block of U.S. 441 South in regard to a reckless driver complaint. Dispatch advised the deputy that the driver of a 2012 white Dodge Charger had placed an order at the drive-thru and appeared impaired.

Upon his arrival, Deputy Pollock saw the Charger parked at the exit end of the drive-thru with the headlights on and engine running. Deputy Pollock reportedly saw a woman in the driver’s seat and fresh vomit that ran down the driver side door.

The report stated that Deputy Cpl. Bryan Lowe met with the complainant who informed him that the woman stopped at the window and paid for the order and then passed out. The complainant then woke her up and told her to pull up to the next window. When she was supposed to receive her food, she drove to the front of the McDonald’s — where she parked and sat for a few minutes — before going back into the drive-thru and placing the same order again.

A West Palm Beach man who passed out in his vehicle while in the drive-thru line at the McDonald’s on Northeast Park Street (State Road 70) was charged with felony driving while license suspended (DWLS)on March 17, 2018, after a report that a driver was unconscious in his vehicle in the drive-thru lane.

Eric Kopp contributed to this story.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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