South Carolina Sheriff Accused of Driving 100 MPH Plus After Hit-and-Run

January 7, 2015

State police reports accuse Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt of driving more than 100 mph, speeding through a red light and nearly losing control of his county-issued pickup truck following a hit-and-run accident.

The S.C. Highway Patrol on Monday released reports and dash-cam videos on DeWitt’s arrest, one week after he was charged with drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident involving an injury. First elected in 1994, DeWitt was sworn into office for a sixth term during a private ceremony Sunday.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, DeWitt apologized for his conduct but again declined to step aside pending the case’s outcome.

“I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment my recent conduct has caused. … I know I have greatly disappointed my family, my friends, my staff and constituents,” he said. “I will accept whatever outcome the judicial process determines to be appropriate. In the meantime, I intend to devote my best efforts to discharging the duties of the office of the Sheriff of Berkeley County and restoring the public’s trust in me.”

A crash report says DeWitt’s Ford F-150 rear-ended a car around 5:30 a.m. Dec. 28 as the driver slowed to turn right. The report estimates it caused about $7,000 worth of damage to the car. The driver was taken to a hospital for examination.

A Hanahan police officer reported he was on his way to work when DeWitt’s truck swerved around his cruiser and sped away at more than 100 mph, nearly losing control several times while ignoring the officer’s blue lights and siren. When DeWitt did stop, he forgot to shift into park before he got out, and two officers had to jump in the side of the rolling truck to stop it.

According to a trooper who took over the case, DeWitt had “droopy, bloodshot and glassy” eyes and lost his balance during field sobriety tests, even after taking his boots off. He declined to take a breath analysis test. In one video, DeWitt can be heard saying he last had a drink around 4 a.m. and telling the trooper he hit the car because it stopped in front of him.

The report says there was an open container of alcohol in DeWitt’s truck, as well as an unopened, 1.75-liter bottle of vodka. The report did not specify what the open container held.

DeWitt, a Republican, ran unopposed in November after winning the June primary.

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