Reserve DNR officer charged in hit-and-run bicycle fatality
A reserve state Department of Natural Resources officer is facing a hit-and-run charge in connection with a collision that took the life of a man riding a bicycle on James Island on Friday night.
Jeffery Lewis Thomas, 46, of Oakhurst Drive in Mount Pleasant, is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, according to a news release from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.
Thomas was being held in the Cannon Detention Center on $20,000 bail set Saturday by Charleston County Magistrate Priscilla Baldwin, but was released Saturday afternoon.
About 10:30 p.m. Friday, the Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a collision between a 2001 Ford Explorer and a bicycle on Riverland Drive near the entrance to Charleston County Park, sheriff’s Maj. Jim Brady said in the release.
The bicyclist, identified by Charleston County Deputy Coroner Kelly Kraus as Matthew Denton, 40, of James Island, died at the scene of traumatic injuries received in the collision.
Investigators said they believe Thomas was driving an Explorer that struck the bicyclist, that he got out and checked on him before getting back into the SUV and driving away, the release said. He returned to the scene 30 to 40 minutes later.
Thomas is a deputy law enforcement officer with the DNR, according to Lt. Robert McCullough, a DNR supervisor.
Thomas’ position with DNR is unpaid and he served on a volunteer basis, McCullough said. He will not be serving in his reserve capacity while the charge is pending, McCullough said.
The cause of the collision is currently under investigation, the release said.
Traffic on Riverland Drive was detoured while investigators worked the scene. The road was cleared around 11:15 p.m.