By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A senior member of Rio’s State Government and former member of Rio’s anti-drink driving squad (Operação Lei Seca), Alexandre Felipe Mendes, admitted to having drunk wine prior to hitting at least four pedestrians, and killing one, with his car on Thursday night.
Mendes, the Vice Secretary of the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, was returning home from a party when the accident occurred on Estrada do Engenho do Mato, in Itaipu, Niterói just before midnight.
At least four people were injured, including two children, aged two and five, and their mother. The fourth victim was a 56-year old male cyclist Herminio Pereira Cosme, who died at the hospital. Mendes reportedly did not stop to offer aid.
The Vice-Secretary said, “I drank just half a glass of wine, took the car at around 10:30PM, and as I was on my way home, a bicycle came out of nowhere and I lost control of the vehicle”. He went on to say that he did not stop to offer help to the victims because he was suffering from shock.
Mendes waited until the morning after the accident to present himself to the police, accompanied by his lawyer, José Maurício Ignácio. A blood test taken at this time revealed blood alcohol levels below the legal limit.
Brazil’s Lei Seca program been in place since 2008. In its first year of operation, the number of deaths on Rio’s roads decreased by 32 percent.
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