UPDATED: Gaston police officers say man who led them on high-speed chase in custody
Gaston, SC (Paul Kirby) – According to Major Stephen Watkins of the Gaston Police Department, a man that led he and two other officers from their department on a high-speed chase early Tuesday morning has been identified. Watkins said late Wednesday that the suspect has been taken into custody in Aiken County after he committed a crime in there. At some point, he will be returned to Lexington County to face the charges he compiled during the chase.
Major Watkins, Captain Poole, and Sgt. Marzol were patrolling in an area that is known for drug activity just after 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, August 11, 2020. The officers spotted a pickup truck leaving a house where narcotics are thought to be distributed. The truck’s driver committed a traffic violation and Watkins activated his cruiser’s lights and initiated a traffic stop. The driver of the truck quickly pulled over as he should have. Both Poole and Marzol also pulled in behind Watkin’s vehicle in case he needed their assistance during the stop.
Watkins said as he approached the red Ford truck, the driver would move a few feet forward with each of his steps. Several times, Watkins ordered the driver to put the truck in park and cut the engine off, but he continued inching forward. Watkins had almost made it to the driver’s window when the operator of the truck suddenly sped away. The two officers that were still in their vehicles immediately followed as Watkins quickly jumped back into his Pursuit Charger. At this point, the truck’s driver accelerated toward the Swansea area and quickly exceeded 100 miles-per-hour. All three officers were right on his tail.
The driver of the truck took a number of turns at very high speeds and several times lost control of the vehicle. At one point he ran into a ditch and knocked most of the front end off the truck. He also skidded into several yards but each time he did this, he was able to regain control. He was consistently running in excess of 100 miles-per-hour and at one point, sped through a stop sign at speeds close to 120 mph. At that point, Major Watkins ordered all cruisers to discontinue the pursuit for fear that the truck’s driver would kill himself or someone else.
The owner of the vehicle who lived in Aiken County was a man in his early 60s. Watkins said that the man driving the truck was obviously much younger. Gaston officers had the Aiken County Sheriff’s Department go to the owner’s home and ask if he knew where his truck was. He thought that it was parked in his drive.
Major Watkins said that after further investigation it was determined that the man’s 20-year-old son had taken his father’s vehicle without his knowledge or permission. He had gone to Gaston and was believed to have purchased drugs just before the officers pulled him over.
Gaston officers have now obtained multiple warrants for the man’s son on a number of charges. They expect to serve those and take the young man into custody soon. The father’s truck is heavily damaged and in need of major repairs.