Wild ride ends in crash, run, tackle of DUI attorney - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:46 pm
Wild ride ends in crash, run, tackle of DUI attorney

Bill Baker was taking his newly purchased Volkswagen van on its maiden voyage in downtown Omaha when he spotted a car bearing down on him from behind.

The guy was going so fast, Baker figured it was an Omaha police officer speeding to an emergency.

But then he wondered why the officer didn't have his lights and sirens on. And then he saw the speeding car rear-end another driver at 19th and Douglas Streets.

Baker quickly realized it wasn't a police officer. Within seconds, he chased down the driver and found out who he was: a DUI attorney.

Omaha police said Omaha attorney Robb Gage, 35, rear-ended a motorist Tuesday night, then took off running before Baker tackled him near 18th and Farnam Streets.

Gage's blood-alcohol content was .22 percent— almost three times the legal limit of .08, police said.

Gage, who had drunken-driving convictions in 2004 and 2008, is expected to be charged Thursday with third-offense aggravated DUI, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Gage was in the Douglas County Jail and unavailable for comment.

Baker, a former National Park Service ranger who moved here a few months ago, said the event was a wild welcome to Omaha. “It was pretty gnarly,” he said.

Baker said he first noticed the speeding Lexus right before it crashed into a car driven by Justin Edmonds near 19th and Douglas Streets.

Police said Edmonds tried to swerve out of the way of the Lexus but was rear-ended. After hitting Edmonds — who wasn't seriously injured, according to authorities — the Lexus continued east and turned into the wrong lanes of 18th Street between Douglas and Farnam Streets.

“I saw the sparks fly from the crash,” Baker said. “Then he kept going and tried to navigate a corner and spun out of control.”

Baker pulled up and watched as the driver, dressed in camouflage shorts and a T-shirt, got out of the Lexus and started running.

Baker chased after him, figuring the driver was “bailing out of a stolen car.” He soon found out otherwise.

“He was running at a pretty good clip at first, but he got out of breath pretty quick,” Baker said. “I was in flip-flops, and it took me less than 30 seconds to catch up to him. I yelled at him to get down. He didn't, so I went ahead and detained him.”

After tackling him, Baker said, it was apparent the driver had been drinking. He and another bystander stood with the driver until police arrived.

There, held on 18th Street between the Douglas County Courthouse and the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Courthouse, Gage was arrested. Police booked him on suspicion of DUI and leaving the scene of a property-damage accident.

Gage, an attorney for 10 years, is featured in a YouTube ad about his DUI practice.

Set to a thumping instrumental, the online commercial features a police car with sirens blazing, a “Sobriety Check Point Ahead” road sign, a tumbler of alcohol next to a set of car keys and the question: “Have you been arrested for DUI?”

The commercial then urges viewers to call Gage for “comprehensive DUI defense.”

Baker said Gage made mention of his practice as they waited for police. Another man asked Gage how much he had to drink.

“Nothing,” Gage said, according to Baker. “Nothing. I'm a DUI lawyer here in town.”

Baker said he shook his head.

“I just thought to myself, ‘Wow.' ”

Contact the writer:

402-444-1275, todd.cooper@owh.com

Contact the writer: Todd Cooper

todd.cooper@owh.com    |   402-444-1275

Todd covers courts and legal issues for The World-Herald.

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