Gaston, SC (Paul Kirby) – The south end of Lexington County was once again screaming with the sound of police sirens Tuesday as both Gaston and Swansea police officers were led on high-speed chases. The Gaston chase happened first thing in the morning and the Swansea chase occurred in the afternoon.
According to Major Stephen Watkins of the Gaston Police Department, he was on routine patrol when he attempted to make a traffic stop for a seatbelt violation. The driver of the car refused to stop and initiated a pursuit. The driver led the police cruiser down Woodtrail Drive and turned on Archwood Street before leading officers over to Busbee Road. At that point, the driver fled down Busbee and turned right on Pasture Road where the driver lost control and crashed. Then, the driver jumped from the vehicle and fled on foot, he was taken into custody quickly.
In Swansea, Officer Evan McWilliams was patrolling on Southbound Road when he got behind a Toyota Camry near Swansea Hardware. He ran the car’s tag and the car came back as stolen. McWilliams turned on his warning devices and the car initially pulled over. When the officer began to exit his cruiser, the driver sped away.
According to Chief Clif Hayes of the Swansea PD, he tried to slow the car down with his cruiser in the town, but the driver of the fleeing car maneuvered around him. Both patrol cars pursued the fleeing vehicle at what Chief Hayes said were consistent speeds of above 100 miles-per-hour. The driver of the stolen car crossed into Orangeburg County with the Swansea officers still in pursuit. The Swansea officers were calling ahead for help, but no one was available to assist. The chase eventually crossed into Bamberg County and it began to rain heavily. At that point, Chief Hayes called off the pursuit for fear that it had become too dangerous. The driver continued at a high rate of speed and passed a SC state trooper who had been responding to assist the Swansea officers. When the car passed the trooper, he turned his cruiser around and began to pursue the fleeing car; at some point the driver turned off into a field where he got bogged down and was taken into custody.
The Gaston PD charged their suspect with several violations that included failure to stop for a blue light, violation of a beginner’s permit, failure to register a vehicle, and operating uninsured. The Swansea suspect will be charged by Swansea PD for failure to stop for a blue light, and SC highway patrol is also charging that suspect for a stolen vehicle taken from Georgia.