A man who fled the scene after slamming into a Bulloch County sheriff’s deputy’s patrol care Tuesday night is behind bars.
Raleigh Anthony Cope, 21, of Railroad Street in Brooklet, was driving near the intersection of Brannen Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway around 8:41 p.m. and failed to yield, colliding with Bulloch County Deputy Jeffrey Thompson, who had the right-of-way and was traveling north on Veterans Memorial Parkway, Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson said.
A second deputy driving nearby saw the crash and called for help.
Cope fled the scene, but was caught a short time later, Anderson said.
While the crash occurred within the Statesboro city limits, because it involved a law enforcement officer, Georgia State Patrol Senior Trooper Chris Palmer was called to investigate.
Thompson was transported to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, where he “was later released and is recovering at home under care of family,” Anderson said.
After Cope was apprehended, he was taken to the Bulloch County Jail, charged with DUI, hit and run, suspended license, and no proof of insurance.
While in custody, Cope also booked on a charge of second-degree criminal damage to property on an outstanding warrant, Anderson said.
Bulloch County Investigator Jared Akins said Thompson was not in pursuit or on an active call when the crash occurred.
Patrol deputies are at an increased risk of accidents because of the sheer volume of miles logged on patrol, he said.
“Any patrol deputy drives about 40,000 miles a year,” he said.
An average driver travels anywhere between 15,000 to 20,000 miles annually, so “it automatically doubles the risk,” Akins said.
Add in other factors such as car chases, higher speeds in responding to emergencies and deer roaming at night, and the risk expands.
“We have had two deer-related wrecks (with deputies) in the last month,” he said.
Thompson made an appearance at the sheriff’s office Wednesday morning but returned home to recover.
“The seat belt and side air bags saved him,” Akins said. “The in-car camera detailed the crash beautifully.”
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.