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Misdemeanor DUI charge upgraded to felony in coast traffic accident

A misdemeanor DUI charge has been upgraded to a felony against a Gulf Coast man accused in an accident in which a 12-year-old boy was hurt.

Harrison County sheriff’s investigators arrested Dustin Joseph Ladner, 22, on the felony charge Tuesday. Ladner initially was charged with the misdemeanor after the accident Aug. 13.

The child, Jamie Perez, is hospitalized at the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile. Relatives said Perez probably will remain hospitalized for a couple of months. He has undergone several surgeries. Family members said he had internal injuries, a broken hip bone and lost skin from being dragged along the road.

Sheriff’s officials said the misdemeanor was upgraded because of the severity of the boy’s injuries.

Ladner did everything possible to avoid the accident, said Wayne Woodall, his attorney.

The crash report states that Perez told deputies his bike didn’t have brakes so he couldn’t stop as Ladner’s truck approached.

The bike struck the pickup’s right-rear fender wall and the child became caught on the edge of a trailer Ladner was using to haul a four-wheeler, Woodall said.

“Ladner took evasive action as much as possible considering the presence of oncoming traffic in the opposite lane, which prevented him from completely moving out of his lane of travel to try to avoid the accident,” Woodall said.

Ladner has been released on $10,000 bond.