Alcohol, thin ice, big car don’t mix

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A 37-year-old Coeur d’Alene man was allegedly drunk when he crashed his SUV through ice-covered Hayden Lake Sunday evening at Honeysuckle Beach.

John W. Hamilton was charged with DUI and appointed a public defender at his first court appearance Monday. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said it’s Hamilton’s second DUI.

Deputies said Hamilton drove his 2015 Nissan Rogue onto Hayden Lake around 10 p.m. when his car broke through the ice.

Witnesses reported a vehicle had twice driven onto the lake from the Honeysuckle Beach boat launch, but it crashed through the surface and was sinking, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.

When they arrived, deputies saw a man in wet clothing walking toward shore as the taillights of the vehicle slipped beneath the surface, according to a press release.

Hamilton’s BAC was .167, deputies said, more than twice the legal limit to drive in Idaho.

At his first appearance Monday in Coeur d’Alene First District Magistrate Court, Hamilton was appointed a public defender.

after explaining to Magistrate Timothy Van Valin that he didn’t have a job but “could probably sell something” to pay for an attorney.

Van Valin set bond at $1,500.

A remote camera showed deputies that Hamilton was the only one in the Nissan, which was submerged in 17 feet of water. The car broke through the ice 650 feet from shore, deputies said.

The Nissan won’t be removed from Hayden Lake until the ice melts, deputies said. The Sheriff’s Office is urging people to stay away from the site.

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