SAINT STEPHEN, S.C. (WCSC) - Saint Stephen Police say a man facing charges in connection with a pursuit Tuesday morning came to a sudden complete stop in an attempt to force an officer to crash.
Christopher Dingle, 37, of Saint Stephen, faces multiple charges in connection to the chase that began at approximately 9:58 a.m., according to an incident report.
Williamsburg County authorities say he was booked into the county jail on charges of reckless driving, failure to stop for blue lights and second-degree assault and battery. He will also face charges in Saint Stephen, police say.
An incident report states police clocked Dingle’s white pickup truck traveling at a speed of approximately 54 mph in a 35 mph zone along Highway 52.
As the vehicle continued northbound, its speed continued to increase, the report states.
A police officer activated blue lights and began to pursue the vehicle, which continued to accelerate, the report states. Police say that as the vehicle approached Albany Street, the driver, “without warning, slammed on the brakes in order to cause a collision.”
Police Chief Lee Wadford said video of the incident made it clear to him that Dingle’s intention was to make the officer crash into the back of the truck. The officer swerved to avoid the crash and then the truck sped away, Wadford said.
Saint Stephen requested the assistance of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office as the pursuit continued along U.S. 52.
Police say Dingle “continued to slam on brakes and attempted to cause other collisions” as the pursuit headed toward Williamsburg County.
Police say Dingle tried to ram two Williamsburg County vehicles parked in the median, but that deputies, upon realizing Dingle’s apparent intent to ram their vehicles, quickly drove out of the median to avoid a crash.
He was taken into custody at the intersection of Highway 52 and South Carolina Highway 261 where he had stopped for a traffic light. While stopped, Williamsburg County deputies and Kingstree Police were able to position their vehicles and block Dingle from being able to continue, the report states.
Police say they learned Dingle had rented the truck from a rental car company.
The incident report states Dingle was charged with one count of speeding, one count of failure to stop for blue lights and reckless driving, but Wadford said his agency will present those charges when Dingle is returned to Berkeley County from the Williamsburg County Detention Center.
While police in Saint Stephen pursued the truck, a Berkeley County K-9 unit on the way to assist police collided with another vehicle in Bonneau, killing the driver of the other vehicle.
Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said a truck pulled onto the 1300 block of Main Street in Bonneau from a side road and the deputy’s vehicle collided with it, sending the deputy’s vehicle into a nearby yard where it caught fire.
The driver of the truck, later identified as 73-year-old Julia Georgiadis, of Moncks Corner, died from her injuries. A passenger in the vehicle was injured and taken to a hospital.
The deputy was trapped in the K-9 unit until bystanders pulled the deputy out of the vehicle. The deputy was then able to get the K9 out as well. Both the deputy and K9 were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, Lewis said.