Beaufort News

Officials capture boat-theft suspects after chase down Broad River

After a chase by land, water and air, authorities Sunday arrested two men who allegedly stole a 33-foot boat and a pickup truck and trailer from a S.C. 170 impound yard and fled in the boat down the Broad River, according to a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officias.

DNR Sgt. Michael Thomas said authorities responded to reports of a break-in at Steadfast Marine Services in Jasper County Sunday morning. Two men had apparently stolen the pleasure craft and launched it from the Bolan Hall public boat ramp on a creek off the Broad River, officials said.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Charleston officials later received what appeared to be a distress call coming from the boat's emergency position indicating radio beacon, according to Lt. Commander Ryan Rhodes.

Coast Guard crews spoke with the boat's owner at about 1 p.m., who told officials the boat had been stolen.

The agency launched a helicopter and small boat to search for the alleged thieves, who by that time had traveled up the Broad near Gray's Hill, Rhodes said.

The helicopter crew, along with DNR boat crews, forced the boat ashore near Corning Landing at Whale Branch Creek, Thomas said.

The two men ran into a wooded area near the Gray's Hill public boat landing, Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Capt. Thomas Smith said.

Authorities found the pair at about 5:45 p.m., Smith said. No injuries were reported, he said.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office K-9 team tracked the men. The Beaufort Police Department also took part in the search, Smith said.

Thomas said the suspects would face reckless boat operation charges from the DNR.

Jasper County Sheriff's Office Detective Eric Baxter said the agency was investigating the incident along with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. He declined to say what charges the men might face in Jasper County.

It was unclear Sunday night what other charges the men might face. The suspect's names were not available at press time

Follow reporter Cassie Foss at twitter.com/LcBlotter.

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