Movie: Biker crashes, dies after pursue with deputies, WCIV
Movie: Biker crashes, dies after pursue with deputies
Dash camera movie provided by the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office shows one of its deputies hit a motorcycle driver with his cruiser during a high-speed pursue. Moments later, the driver wrecked and was killed. (BCSO)
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Dash camera movie and the official incident report from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office are shedding light on the circumstances leading to a motorcycle driver’s death after a high speed pursue through the heart of Summerville, South Carolina, Wednesday night.
After almost six minutes and more than seven miles, with speeds reaching as high as one hundred twelve miles per hour, the front of a Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office cruiser makes contact with the rear of the motorcycle.
Seconds later, dash camera movie shows the driver lose control, hit a curb and crash into the passenger side of a bystander’s car as it switched lanes in front of him.
The motorcyclist, 30-year-old Robert Lee Clark, was not wearing a helmet and died at the scene, despite attempts to revive him using CPR by the deputy pursuing him, according to an incident report released Thursday.
The dash camera movie provided by the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office finishes moments after the crash, and does not display any of the aftermath, during which the deputy, identified as James Vansant, reportedly attempted CPR on Clark.
An incident report from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office goes on to say the Dorchester County coroner searched Clark’s bod and motorcycle, finding fifty five grams of green plant material, a pipe and a flipped cigarette.
According to the incident report, Deputy Vansant began pursuing Clark at 11:51 p.m. Wednesday when he spotted him speeding on College Park Road in Ladson. Vansant reported Clark was doing sixty six mph in a posted forty five mph zone.
Vansant said in his report he pulled out and turned on his blue lights to initiate a traffic stop, and Clark sped up.
The dash camera movie shows it took Vansant a utter minute to catch Clark, even doing one hundred twelve mph at one point. The sheriff’s office in its official statement on the pursue reported the top speed at one hundred eleven mph.
Once Vansant caught up to Clark, the movie shows Clark began driving erratically — driving on the wrong side of the road, driving in the median, slowing down to only thirty three mph, and speeding up to more than one hundred mph again before eventually running the crimson light at the College Park Road / Highway 17-A intersection.
From there, the movie shows Clark turn left onto 17-A toward Summerville, where moments later a 2nd deputy is shown joining the pursue. Speeds again reached more than one hundred mph (as high as 111), and continued at that rhythm for almost a minute, during which Clark is shown running a 2nd crimson light.
The movie goes on to demonstrate Clark slowing to inbetween 75-85 mph after crossing over the I-26 overpass into Summerville, again driving the wrong way on 17-A, running a third crimson light and speeding back up to more than ninety mph on North Main Street. The posted speed limit there is thirty mph.
Deputy Vansant’s clear contact with Clark’s motorcycle comes Five:37 into the pursue. The deputy’s speed at that point was displayed at sixty four mph. The sheriff’s office said the contact was caused by Clark slowing dramatically after he appeared to “miss a gear.”
Deputy Vansant in his report only mentioned contacting the motorcycle once prior to the crash. The sheriff’s office in its official statement on the incident also only mentions one example of contact inbetween Vansant’s vehicle and the motorcycle.
ABC News four reached out to the South Carolina Highway Patrol to see if there were any other aspects of the pursue under review, and we were told it’s all still under investigation.
The sheriff’s office says it has placed Vansant on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into the crash by the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Officials say Vansant has worked for the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office for a little more than a year, and worked with the North Charleston Police Department for six years prior to that. Before his career in law enforcement, the sheriff’s office says Vansant served sixteen years in the U.S. military.
On Friday, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office provided a copy of its policy on vehicle pursuits. Employees are instructed to weigh several factors when determining if they should pursue of a suspect, including risk to public safety and the seriousness of the crime.
Furthermore, employees involved in a pursue aren’t permitted to deliberately make contact with the vehicle they’re pursuing unless they are specifically authorized by a supervisor. Even then, the policy states contact can only be approved in a situation where use of deadly force would be authorized.
Circumstances for abandoning pursues are also outlined in the policy. According to the document, employees are responsible for continually reevaluating the situation, and can end the pursuit if risks of continuing the pursuit outweigh benefits.
One such screenplay is if the suspect’s identity has been determined and instantaneous apprehension isn’t necessary.
Pursues injecting parking lots. school zones. construction zones and residential areas are supposed to be abandoned unless permission is given by a supervisor to proceed.
Dash camera footage of the pursue provided by the sheriff’s office does include audio of Deputy Vansant’s radio conversations during the pursue, but conversations cannot be clearly understood.
View the sheriff’s office pursuit policy in total below.