Man rescued from Lake Erie admits to DWI crash

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Lackawanna man pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and felony DWI Friday morning, after a bizarre chain of events that happened in May. The Erie County District Attorney’s Office says 43-year-old Douglas Kersten could face up to seven years in jail.

Kersten allegedly stole a woman’s car keys and drove off with a companion after an afternoon beach party, according to the DA’s office. He allegedly lost control of the stolen car and went down an embankment. The passenger in the car suffered traumatic brain injury.

The DA’s office says a good samaritan came to Kersten’s aid, and Kersten punched him. Kersten fled the scene and waded into frigid waters of Lake Erie, says the DA’s office. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office helicopter was called out to rescue him and bring him to shore.

Kersten allegedly invited police to engage in sexual activity before he was taken into custody. A blood test revealed Kersten had allegedly consumed Xanax and marijuana, and that he had a .16 percent BAC.

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office says Kersten has four previous felony DWI convictions, a felony assault conviction and a felony reckless endangerment conviction.

If convicted, he could face a maximum prison term of three-and-a-half to seven year prison term. He will be sentenced in April.

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