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      Firefighter talks after drunk driver is given tougher charge

      "The accident happened October 19th and I probably haven't slept 10 full nights since the accident happened, because of pains I get in my knee," said Althoff (WCIV)

      GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) -- Mixed emotions come to mind when Mike Althoff thinks of the car accident that changed his life.

      "The accident happened October 19th and I probably haven't slept 10 full nights since the accident happened, because of pains I get in my knee," said Althoff, a firefighter for the Goose Creek Fire Department.

      A weight has been lifted off Althoff's shoulders now that the drunk driver who ran into him is being charged with felony DUI.

      "It gives me some relief. I felt that should have been the initial charge," Althoff said.

      Althoff says that night he was helping police work a car accident, when 25-year-old Jessica Lanier drove her car through the scene.

      "We were crossing the highway, a lane of traffic, to check on one of the patients who was seated in the police officers vehicle. And out of the blue this vehicle came through and hit both of us."

      Lanier was initially charged with a DUI, but when the severity of his injuries came to light, authorities toughened Lanier's charge to felony DUI.

      "I actually tore my MCLcompletely. It's un-repairable per the orthopedic doctor. The rest of the muscles in my leg will just take over for that ligament. Of course, my leg will never be the same," said Althoff. "For 28 years I've been taking care of people and rendering help to them. Now, the shoe's on the other foot."

      This is the 3rd time Lanier has been charged with DUI. The first two times she was charged but not convicted.

      "That just reinforces the fact that it should have been a felony from the beginning."

      Althoff is now limited to mainly desk work. He says based on doctor analysis he will be able to return to full active duty as a firefighter.

      Jessica Lanier bonded out of jail early Friday morning. She's awaiting a preliminary hearing to determine whether her case will go to trial.

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