Two Augusta men were detained after a vehicle chase that began in Aiken County and continued into Richmond County early on Thursday, according to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.
Charles Lee Welcher, 46, of Augusta, was charged with driving while license suspended, improper tag transfer, failure to stop at stop sign and attempting to elude, as well as warrants for order to show cause. He was placed in the Richmond County detention center, where he remained on Thursday morning.
Gerald Wayne Rutland Jr., 40, of Augusta, was charged with disorderly conduct and placed in the Richmond County detention center, where he remained Thursday morning.
Aiken County deputies tried to stop a vehicle on Jefferson Davis Highway for suspicion of DUI at about 2 a.m. on Thursday, but the vehicle sped up and continued onto Anthony Drive to Highway 421, according to a sheriff’s report. Officers estimated the speed of the chase reached 90 mph at one point.
The suspect vehicle returned to Jefferson Davis Highway and was traveling toward Augusta when North Augusta Public Safety officers deployed spike strips, causing one of the vehicle’s tires to go flat and eventually come off the rim, police said. The pursuit continued into Richmond County and onto Highway 56, just off Gordon Highway.
Richmond County deputies took over the pursuit, which ended a short time later when the suspect vehicle slowed to a stop, police said. The driver, Welcher, along with the passenger, Rutland, jumped out of the vehicle and fled on foot. Officers deployed a Taser on Welcher and were able to catch Rutland on foot.
Welcher and Rutland face additional charges in Aiken County for failure to stop for blue lights and sirens, driving under suspension and reckless driving.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.