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GASPORT – A Gasport man with a history of drunken driving was taken by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center after a crash early Monday and while in the hospital he was charged with felony driving while intoxicated.

Brian Rice, 37, of Rochester Road, was also charged with moving from a lane unsafely, violating the open container law, failure to keep right and not wearing a seatbelt. Rice, who was convicted of drunken driving in 2004, was charged with a felony for having a second drunken driving charge.

Rice’s vehicle was found by a passerby off the road in a ditch just before 2 a.m. in the 7900 block of Rochester Road, in front of Gasport Auto Sales, with the lights on and the engine running. Niagara County sheriff’s deputies found Rice unconscious behind the driver’s seat with a cut on his head, and blood on his seat and the steering wheel, which had been bent in the crash, according to Niagara County Sheriff Chief Deputy Steven Preisch.

“It looks like he went off the south side of the road and into a ditch and continued until he hit a telephone pole, then struck a culvert pipe,” Preisch said. He said several open containers of beer were also found in the vehicle.

Deputies at the scene said Rice first reported that someone else had been driving, but later recanted. No one else was found in the vehicle and a witness confirmed that he was alone, according to Preisch.

Due to his head injury and his confusion he was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC. He was conscious at the hospital and was charged.