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Sheriff's captain charged with vehicular homicide

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    A court date has yet to be set for a Bulloch County Sheriff's captain charged with second degree vehicular homicide, according to the Bulloch County Clerk of Courts office.
    And no disciplinary action is planned for Capt. Lee Harris, who was also charged with following too closely  regarding a Jan 10, 2007 traffic accident on U.S. 301 North near Randy Lowery Road, said Bulloch County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Gene McDaniel.
    "It was a traffic accident, and we have yet to receive any report" aside from a preliminary accident report from the Georgia State Patrol, he said. "It could have happened to anyone and was not purposely done."
    Harris, 41, was driving a Bulloch County-owned (sheriff's department) vehicle when he ran into the back of a car driven by Linda S. Kimble, now 62, of Brooklet, according to GSP reports.
    Johnny Edward McNeely, 70, of Swainsboro, died from injuries sustained in the accident.
    McNeely was driving a log truck on U.S. 301 North, heading west around noon Jan. 10, when Harris, approaching from the opposite direction, struck Kimble's car.
    The impact sent Kimble's Toyota Camry into McNeely's path, and after his log truck struck her car, he crossed the oncoming lane of traffic, left the roadway and plowed through a block building, said Georgia State Patrol Sr. Trooper D. H. Averitt.
    After Harris struck Kimble's car, he then struck a Coca Cola van driven by Michael Bird, 42, Statesboro.
    Harris, Kimble and Bird were injured, but Harris and Kimble were both treated and released from East Georgia Regional Medical Center. Bird was treated at the scene.
    However, McNeely was taken by Life Star helicopter to Memorial  Health University  Medical Center in Savannah, where he was admitted to an intensive care unit, Averitt said. He died two days later.
    "We feel for (McNeely's) family," McDaniel said. "We've worried about Lee and worried about that family."
    However, McDaniel anticipates no disciplinary action at this time because Harris' charges stem from a traffic accident, not an intentional action.
    And should any disciplinary action be taken in the future against Harris, it will be after a civil suit against the county by McNeely's family, as well as a state court hearing regarding Harris' charges, take place, he said.
    Sheriff's officials have yet to receive a report of findings by the GSP Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team regarding the lengthy investigation into the accident, he said.
    And simply because Harris is a law enforcement officer doesn't mean he is not human and should be treated any differently than any other citizen, he said.
    "Our folks are just as well entitled to the protection of the U.S. Constitution as all the thugs back here in our jail," McDaniel said. "There isn't any cover-up. (Accidents) happen to everybody. It just so happens it was one of our guys and our vehicle (in this particular accident)."
    Harris will face the state court hearing on his charges, but a date has not been set, and Bulloch County will face the civil suit that is pending as well, he said.
    "We're traveling at the speed of  the system and we're at the mercy of the lawyers," he said, referring to when the date may be set for Harris' case.
    McDaniel said Harris has been instructed by attorneys not to comment on the case at this time.
    The GSP Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team investigation took approximately  18 months before charges were levied, according to GSP records.
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