Port Royal police chase ends in 4-vehicle wreck

tbarton@beaufortgazette.comDecember 4, 2012 

Ellis R. Washington

A police chase led to a four-vehicle wreck that tied up traffic and injured one person Tuesday at the foot of the McTeer Bridge in Port Royal, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Senior Trooper Bridget Wyant said Port Royal police officers were chasing Ellis R. Washington, 30, of Beaufort, north on Ribaut Road at about 7:30 a.m. when Washington tried to make a right onto Lady's Island Drive.

Washington lost control and hit a vehicle driven by Michael Breece, 45, of St. Helena Island. Breece was taken by ambulance to Beaufort Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries, according to Port Royal police. His were the only injuries reported.

Wyant said Breece's car was pushed into a vehicle driven by Michael Merkle, 63, of Beaufort.

Washington also struck a vehicle driven by Lawrence Daise, 48, of St. Helena Island.

Port Royal police Detective Andre Massey said the chase began on Savannah Highway after officers saw Washington swerving. Officers tried to stop him on Parris Island Gateway, but Washington refused to pull over, he said.

Washington was charged with failure to stop for blue lights, driving under the influence, second-offense driving with a suspended license and simple possession of marijuana. He was being held for prosecution in the Beaufort County Detention Center on Tuesday evening, according to online jail records.

One officer drew his gun after the chase, not knowing what to expect when approaching Washington's vehicle, Massey said. He said Washington was unarmed, did not threaten police and was immediately apprehended.

Washington has been arrested in the past on weapons and drug-trafficking charges, as well as for resisting arrest and failing to register as a sex offender, according to online jail records.

He pleaded guilty in February 2011 to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and was sentenced to two years in jail, with credit for time served, according to online court records. He was released March 1, according to the S.C. Department of Corrections.

The crash blocked eastbound traffic of Lady's Island Drive for about an hour. All lanes were opened by 9 a.m.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.

Related content:

Port Royal PD: Beaufort woman shot at father: Nov. 19, 2012

Man faces Port Royal drug charges: Nov. 13, 2012

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service