EDITORIAL: Excessive speeds, chases are cause for concern
The City of Clinton clearly dodged a bullet recently when a car - traveling like a bullet - came the wrong way down Musgrove Street and came to rest near the railroad tracks. A slight miscalculation to the right, and we would have lost The Depot.
Established by the late Lynn Cooper, The Depot is a very valuable piece of uptown Clinton real estate. It is our public events venue, and while it has no shade, it is tolerable for outdoor events, even in the heat of summer, with umbrellas. tents and such.
So it was with much concern Aug. 2 when we learned that an Upstate man, identified by authorities as Antwain Jermaine Abercrombie, allegedly running from the law, wrecked the vehicle he was driving with a woman passenger nearly into The Depot.
Frankly, we’re not sure why he couldn’t have been stopped (spike strips, etc.) somewhere between getting off I-26 and the middle of Clinton. He drove, allegedly, right beside the back door of the Public Safety Building. Just back a fire truck (an old one) onto the roadway, and block the path.
Still, the point is, he was stopped, when he ran out of pavement, and officers of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office took him into custody.
Then, it happened again (Aug. 13, 14.6 miles).
Not in uptown Clinton, but in Laurens County - another suspect, running from the law, stopped by going down a dead-end road. Two incidents - no life-threatening injuries. (Then, it happened again last week - Greenwood escapee crashed Wednesday in upper Laurens County, motorcyclist crashed last Tuesday in Seneca, both running from the law.)
Other places have not been as lucky - an Upstate law enforcement chase crash resulted in the death of a college student, wrong place, wrong time (coming home from a meeting with his pastor).
We are not sure about what to do about the prevalence of high-speed chases in South Carolina.
It seems that more frequently, drivers on the wrong side of the law, often for driving under suspension, meaning they’ve been in trouble before, are trying to run. We are a long way from “Smokey and the Bandit,” but the “Fast and Furious” franchise is still going strong - so they might be getting ideas from these or video games. Our prisons do not have enough room for these people, but some serious fines that stick or local jail time of a length that makes an impression seem to be in order.
DUS isn’t working - how are they supposed to get to work, to make money to pay the fine?
We are thankful that the Aug. 2 incident was not worse for Clinton. In addition to The Depot, our Confederate Monument could have been destroyed, and if this had been a school day, at least one intersection that suspect Abercrombie “blew through” would have had traffic. People could have been coming out of the Clinton Presbyterian Community parking lot, or House of Pizza, or Steamers and they would have been run over. There can be no upside in running from the law in this reckless manner (if, indeed, the suspect is convicted, he is considered innocent until proven guilty).
The same goes for law enforcement.
There is no upside in officers going too fast through cities, as has been the case recently, according to a friend of The Chronicle.
This person, who served in the military police, reports a serious high-speed issue with law enforcement at the 308 “fork” in front of our office, and on a road in the city (his grandson was driving). Law enforcement cars “flying” over the Broad Street railroad tracks, also, are just a tragedy waiting to happen.
Laurens County government needs to be sure - very, very sure - that all its officers have the best and most up-to-date training possible in high-speed driving. That’s not micro-managing - that is potentially saving lives.
Our friend says, “These young officers, their adrenaline gets going, and ... there you go.” Maybe that’s true for the people they are chasing, also.
We want officers to get there quickly and safely, and we are not stating or implying wrong-doing here. Maximum training and effective supervision - that’s what we want. That is what we expect.