Beaufort News

Man swims Hilton Head lagoon to evade speeding ticket; deputy reels him in

The Palmetto Dunes gate in September 2012.
The Palmetto Dunes gate in September 2012.

A speeding driver decided a swim in a Hilton Head Island lagoon inhabited by alligators was better than getting ticketed by a Beaufort County sheriff's deputy.

He wound up with a ticket and a soggy ride to jail, anyway.

A deputy attempted to stop the man for going 38 mph in a 25-mph zone on Queens Folly Road in Palmetto Dunes at about 8:45 p.m. Sunday. The 23-year-old driver, who lives down the road from the lagoon, pulled into a boat-ramp parking area near the Queens Folly bridge and turned off his lights, causing the deputy to drive past him, the report said.

As the deputy put his patrol car in reverse, the driver got out of his vehicle and jumped through some bushes into the lagoon. Other deputies soon arrived to help search for the man, and he was soon spotted swimming far across the lagoon toward the Fazio Golf Course, the report said.

"I yelled at the suspect to come back many times because there are alligators in the water and he needed to come back before anything bad happened to him in the water," the deputy wrote in his report.

The warnings were to no avail.

"I observed the suspect disregard the order."

The deputy drove around to the golf course and handcuffed the man as he pulled himself out of the lagoon.

The man had small wounds and was bleeding, believed to be caused by "jumping into the bushes and going through limbs and shrubbery to make his way to the lagoon," the report said.

He was charged with speeding and with open container after deputies found an empty beer bottle in his car. He has been released on his own recognizance from the Beaufort County Detention Center, according to the jail log.