A police officer and several restaurant goers were lucky to escape injury Christmas Eve. According to news reports, Taos County, New Mexico Sheriff's Deputy Nicholas Lamendola was responding to a call on the evening of December 24 with his lights and sirens blaring when a vehicle pulled in front of his Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicle. Lamendola was traveling at a high rate of speed when he struck the vehicle, bounced over a snow bank, spun through a parking lot and rolled onto the patio of the El Prado restaurant. Moments earlier, patrons were waiting for a table on that very patio.

The deputy's vehicle was leaking fuel, and bystanders were quick to pull an open fire pit from the scene before removing the officer from the overturned Tahoe. Beer cans were found in the vehicle, but local police insist Lamendola wasn't drinking. The deputy is said to have borrowed the SUV from another officer who had just responded to an open container call. Lamendola wasn't submitted to a blood test. Hit the jump for a news report on the crash.

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