A Berkeley County sheriff's deputy will not face charges related to a fatal crash with a motorcyclist during a high-speed pursuit through downtown Summerville in April.
Don Sorenson, senior assistant solicitor with the 1st Circuit Solicitor's Office, confirmed that a Dorchester County grand jury declined Thursday to indict the deputy, James Vansant.
The pursuit began while Vansant was looking for speeding motorists on College Park Road in Ladson on April 19. He noticed a motorcycle going 66 mph in a 45 mph zone.
The driver, later identified as 30-year-old Goose Creek resident Robert Lee Clark Jr., didn't pull over for the deputy's lights and sirens. The pursuit stretched over eight miles and more than five minutes to South Main Street in Summerville.
It ended when Clark's motorcycle crashed into a car and he was thrown onto the pavement. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
"Speeds reached ... 111 mph at times with the motorcyclist slamming on the brakes and then speeding away several times," Chief Deputy Mike Cochran said in the sheriff's statement after the crash.
The Berkeley County coroner later pulled a marijuana cigarette, a pipe and a few bags of marijuana from Clark's clothes, the report stated. The marijuana weighed nearly 2 ounces.
"Deputy Vansant was placed on administrative leave until the case could be thoroughly investigated by the S.C. Highway Patrol," according to a statement released Thursday by the Sheriff's Office. "The findings of that investigation and the coroner's report have been provided to the Dorchester County grand jury. The grand jury declined to indict Deputy Vansant on any charges."
An internal investigation by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office is ongoing and Vansant will remain on leave until that is completed, the statement said.
"It is important to realize that deputies have a dangerous job," Sheriff Duane Lewis said. "Traffic stops and domestic violence investigations are among the most dangerous and unpredictable things that they do. It’s unfortunate that a loss of life occurred in this case and both families have been impacted by this incident."