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Deputy recovers, but BCSD traffic unit stays busy
Julius Mills

Deputy Robert Crapse, who was run over and dragged Dec. 14 during a traffic stop, is reportedly doing well after a brief hospitalization with an ankle injury. He reportedly suffered a severe sprain and ligament damage, but returned to work on Dec. 19.

The alleged offender, Florida man Paul Anthony Lee, was killed that night when he crossed I-95 while trying to run from police.

Crapse is a member of the BCSO traffic unit. The unit patrols the roads and highways of Bryan County.

Unit leader Lt. David Blige said the unit also is responsible for a large number of drug and drug money busts because Bryan County is a routine passageway for drug trafficking.

The BCSO traffic unit currently consists of Blige, Crapse, Cpl. Mark Crowe and Deputy Shane Tatum. Crapse recently replaced Cpl. Trip Meacham who transferred to another division. Tatum recently replaced Cpl. John Peny when Peny was promoted to Sergeant to fill the late Sgt. Mike Larson’s position.

The unit has had a few significant busts over the last couple of months, including a high speed chase through multiple counties to catch a wanted man and a seizure of 42 pounds of marijuana in Richmond Hill.

Here are details of three recent busts, based from information on recently filed BCSO incident reports:

On Oct. 17, David Blige pulled over a vehicle on I-95, near the 83 mile marker point, for what he suspected was window tinting darker than the legal limit. When Blige approached the vehicle, he reportedly detected an odor of marijuana.

This prompted Blige to call in backup while awaiting the results of a check on the suspect’s license.

Dispatch called Blige back to inform him that the suspect, North Carolina resident James Leak, had of a long list of priors including murder charges and trafficking cocaine and marijuana. Blige then asked Leak for consent to search his vehicle, which allegedly was granted.

Cpl. Mark Crowe popped the trunk and opened a suit case to find 42 pounds of marijuana wrapped in plastic. Leak was arrested and taken to Bryan County Jail on charges of drug trafficking.

On Oct. 16, Crowe pulled over 34-year-old Sanford, Florida resident Julius Mills and his passenger, Lomicia Whitaker, on I-95 in Richmond Hill after the man allegedly swerved over the lines of traffic.

When Crowe began to step out of his squad car, the suspect sped away. Crowe followed in a high speed pursuit which included Mills allegedly bumping Crowe’s vehicle while driving at speeds faster than 100 mph.

Fellow traffic unit members Blige, Cpl. Trip Meacham and Deputy Shane Tatum joined up with Crowe on the roadway in a high speed chase that continued through Liberty County before ending in McIntosh.

In the process the suspect vehicle plowed through orange traffic barrels and also bumped the front of Tatum’s vehicle.

In McIntosh, the traffic unit surrounded the suspect vehicle and forced it to stop.

The vehicle reportedly made one last failed attempt to flee by ramming Crowe’s squad car, caving in the side of it.

The two suspects were arrested at the scene. Allegedly found in the vehicle was marijuana and numerous stolen credit cards that were traced back to Richmond Hill. Blige said the duo was subsequently linked to a large amount of fraudulent credit card activity in the area.

On Sept. 28, Deputy Tatum pulled over a vehicle for speeding on I-95, near the 80 mile marker. When he approached the vehicle, Tatum reportedly smelled marijuana. Tatum also discovered that the license of the driver, Florida resident Howard Earl Grant, was suspended. Blige, Meacham and Crowe soon arrived for backup.

Grant gave consent to search his vehicle, and the traffic unit found marijuana residue on the floorboard. A further search uncovered a garbage bag in the trunk filled with four gallon bags each containing a pound of marijuana.

Grant was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell.

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