HOUSTON -- A veteran Department of Public Safety trooper who was trying to get drunken drivers off the roadways was critically injured when his patrol vehicle was struck from behind early Monday by a suspected drunken driver.
Trooper Chad Blackburn, a member of the state police force for about 10 years, was working as part of a DWI task force during the Labor Day weekend when his vehicle was struck about 1:45 a.m. on the shoulder of southbound Interstate 45 near NASA Road 1, officials said.
Tuwanna Moore, 31, of League City, was charged with intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury to a peace officer, a second-degree felony, after crashing into Blackburn's vehicle with her red Mercedes, authorities said.
Blackburn was taken first to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center and then to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he underwent surgery. He was listed in critical condition late Monday.
Moore also was treated for injuries before being taken to the Harris County Jail, where she was being held late Monday in lieu of $100,000 bail.
All southbound lanes of the Gulf Freeway were shut for about four hours until 6 a.m. Monday while police investigated the incident.
Blackburn is stationed at the Webster office, according to DPS Lt. Craig Cummings.
Blackburn had joined with other local law enforcement officials to enhance patrols for drunken drivers over the long Labor Day weekend.
"Texans are killed on our roadways every day because of reckless drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking," DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a statement. "DPS works around the clock to help prevent these tragedies."
During the 2015 Labor Day holiday enforcement period, DPS troopers made 488 arrests for intoxicated driving.
The Monday incident sparked a number of posts on Facebook from law enforcement agencies across the Houston area and beyond, and from law enforcement support groups.
"Please pray for Trooper Blackburn," the Kemah Police Department posed on its Facebook page.
"Keep DPS Trooper Blackburn and his family in your thoughts and prayers. This is another suspected drunk driver," posted the League City Police Officers' Association.
Blackburn has ties to Liberty and Chambers counties. He worked in Liberty County for five years; his brother, Dustin Blackburn, is a DPS corporal in Chambers County.
Sgt. Rob Willoughby, who operates out of the DPS office in Liberty, called Blackburn a "very family-oriented man and all-around good guy."
According to Willoughby, Blackburn worked in Liberty County DPS office for five years.
"We rode together a few times. He is a very level-headed person who always takes care of business," Willoughby said. "We all are praying for his recovery and strength for his family in the weeks to come."
Blackburn is married with two children.
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