Enquirer Herald

Winstead says he's resigning in the wake of second driving arrest

York County Councilman Eric Winstead told The Herald on Friday that he was resigning “effective immediately” in the aftermath of his second arrest in five months for a driving offense.

Winstead’s resignation came just hours after The Herald reported that the Highway Patrol’s incident report contradicted his own version of what happened the night before he was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

“I can’t explain the discrepancy in the report versus what I said yesterday,” Winstead said Friday.

Winstead said he went to the doctor Friday morning, where he had blood drawn for testing.

“I’m being evaluated, trying to figure out what the problem is,” he said, adding that he has been experiencing memory loss for the past two years and hasn’t dealt with it.

The first-term Republican was arrested Wednesday morning after police say he hit a sign with his car and left the scene of the accident on foot – his second arrest since taking office last year.

He was charged with driving too fast for conditions and leaving the scene of an accident.

The incident report says that a trooper was dispatched to a collision at 5 a.m. and found an abandoned white Toyota off the northbound shoulder in a ditch. There was a sign lying in the shoulder.

A Chester County deputy told the trooper that the driver, who was reported missing by his wife, had been found at his home, according the report.

After clearing the car from the shoulder, the trooper went to Winstead’s home at 459 Sutton Springs Road in York, where Winstead’s wife, Kimberly, said her husband had come home around 2:30 a.m. and that his speech was slurred, the report says.

The trooper asked to speak with Winstead, who was in the house asleep. When Winstead came from the bedroom, his eyes were watery and “red blood shot” and he “had a faint odor of alcohol,” the report says.

Winstead was not charged with any alcohol-related offenses. He declined to comment on that part of the trooper’s report.

According to the report, Winstead told the officer he had been in Columbia the evening before and had a flat tire on the way home. He said he left his car in a ditch and an unknown man gave him a ride home.

“Winstead couldn’t remember striking the sign” and “couldn’t provide a valid reason why he didn’t inform the Highway Patrol” after the collision, the trooper wrote in the report.

In an interview with The Herald on Thursday at his house, Winstead disputed the charge that he hit a sign and said he didn’t understand why he was arrested. He said the trooper didn’t mention the sign until after they were on their way to the Chester County Detention Center.

He provided other details that contradict the trooper’s account of what happened.

Winstead said he couldn’t remember what time he was heading home and mentioned that he was suffering some short-term memory loss lately.

Winstead told The Herald he had been working in Chester the afternoon before his arrest helping a friend find clients for installing security systems.

He said it was dark when the accident happened, but disputed the Highway Patrol’s claim that the accident happened around 2 a.m., saying he didn’t know why he would have been out that late.

Winstead told The Herald that he didn’t have any way to call anyone after the accident because his phone service had been disconnected for not being able to pay the bill.

He said his family has been experiencing financial hardship recently.

The incident came five months after Winstead was arrested in York on a drunken driving charge. Some York County Republicans who supported Winstead’s decision to stay in office then reacted to his Wednesday arrest with recommendations that he step down from his County Council post.

Winstead was arrested in December after a York County Sheriff’s deputy stopped his car for swerving on U.S. 321 in York.

Winstead was charged with driving under the influence, with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 to 0.16, and having an open container of beer or wine.

The legal blood-alcohol limit is 0.08.

In January, Winstead pleaded guilty to the first-offense DUI charge and paid a $1,022 fine. The open container charge was dropped.