Darlington County deputy suspended for crash

A Darlington County Sheriff's Deputy has been suspended without pay for five days, Sheriff Wayne Byrd announced Tuesday.

The deputy, who is an agent with the Darlington County Sheriff's Office's Narcotics Division, was responding to a report of shots fired at an officer in March when he lost control of the SUV in which he and two other deputies were traveling.

Darlington County deputies say the crash happened when the agent tried to avoid a car that pulled out in front him on Highway 151, near the Darlington Raceway.

"This was an unfortunate event, involving a good officer," Sheriff Byrd said in a press release. "He loves and serves the people of Darlington County and would never intentionally put them at risk."

Highway Patrol investigated the crash. It's accident report says the agent was running his blue lights and siren at the time of the crash. It confirms the other car pulled out in front of the agent's cruiser. It goes on to say "based on a time distance study... Unit #2 (the car that pulled in front of the agent's) would have been unable to see Unit #1 (the agent's car)."

An investigative report says calculations show the other car was 573 to 626 feet away from the collision location, beyond the 500 feet minimum audible distance required for emergency sirens.

The report does not say how fast the agent was driving.

The Darlington County Sheriff's Office couldn't discipline the agent until the South Carolina Highway Patrol issued its investigation report.

Sheriff Byrd says he received that report Tuesday.

"I have reviewed the findings of the Highway Patrol's MAIT Team. I have taken into account the circumstances that set this all into motion, and I have also considered the deputy's background and record of service," Sheriff Byrd said. "This punishment is tough, but fair and reflects the fact that the deputy made a mistake in judgment," Sheriff Byrd said. "I have also ordered a review of our call response policies and have ordered all our personnel to be updated on them."

No one was hurt in the crash.

The agent's name will not be released because of the nature of his job.