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MGH Surgeon Accused of Drunken Driving, Striking Pedestrians Placed on Leave

Dr. Michael Watkins was released on $1,500 bail after pleading not guilty Tuesday to charges including assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and operating under the influence

A surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital who was recently arrested for drunk driving after striking three pedestrians has been placed on leave.

Dr. Michael Watkins, a vascular surgeon, was released on $1,500 bail after pleading not guilty Tuesday to charges including assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and operating under the influence.

Prosecutors say the 64-year-old struck three victims just before midnight Friday at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Clarendon Street in Boston's South End. One victim told police the driver stopped, honked his horn and then accelerated, hitting the pedestrians. They are all expected to survive.

A detective located the surgeon, still driving his Lexus, a few blocks from the scene and pulled him over.

According to police, officers could smell alcohol on his breath. His blood alcohol content was measured at .11.

Watkins' attorney said in court that his client was not beeping at the pedestrians, but at another car blocking the crosswalk and his blood-alcohol measurement was barely above the legal limit to drive. His attorney also said Watkins has a clean record and driving history.

An MGH spokesperson says the hospital is following the case and will decide the best course of action for the surgeon.

Watkins, who is also an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, is the chairman of hospital's Vascular Department.

He is due back in court the end of July.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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