Palmdale couple recounts suspected DUI crash involving off-duty LAPD officer

PALMDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- A couple is grateful to be alive after they spent five days in the hospital recovering from injuries sustained when an off-duty LAPD officer allegedly crashed into their vehicle while drunk.

Cassia Sojack and Jay Clark counted their blessings Thursday. The vehicle they were in was mangled after the off-duty officer slammed into them.

"The last thing I remember is talking about plans we were making," Clark said. "A couple minutes later, I woke up in the back seat and I'm like, 'What happened?'"

They spent five days in the hospital with severe injuries - bruises, fractured vertebrae, broken ribs, lacerated liver and a fractured scapula.

Clark and Sojack were on their third date looking over Palmdale Lake at Vista Point last Thursday when the crash happened. Authorities said 33-year-old Michael Keith veered off the 14 Freeway and went into the parking lot, crashing into the vehicle.

"We were just sitting there talking. We weren't even driving. We were just sitting there. Never saw it coming," Sojack said.

Keith was arrested at the scene on suspicion of driving under the influence. It's the latest in a series of alcohol-related incidents for the department. Last week, a commander was cited on suspicion of being drunk in public, while a sergeant was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Sojack and Clark said Keith should lose his badge since he was willing to put innocent lives at risk.

"I have a lot of law enforcement in my family, so to think that someone would do that - to that extreme to where you're going to drink and pass out - it's hard to believe," Clark said.

Keith faces a felony DUI charge, and the LAPD launched its own investigation.
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