A motorist, driving a stolen van, reportedly blew through a stop sign Monday night in McIntosh County and led law-enforcement officers through three counties before he was stopped by a Liberty deputy near Richmond Hill.
According to McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy William Jennings, Deputy Brian Kabler attempted to stop a motorist, driving a 1998 GMC Safari van, who ran a stop sign just before 10 p.m. at the intersection of Georgia State Routes 25 and 99 in Eulonia. When the driver, who later was identified as Omhar Rodriquez-Bermudez of Savannah, reportedly failed to stop, a chase began.
A McIntosh 911 Center dispatcher informed Liberty County authorities that a pursuit was heading into Liberty County on South Coastal Highway near Riceboro.
According to an incident report filed by Liberty County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Eason, Deputy Brandon Calhoun was dispatched to the South Newport area to assist Kabler, and Eason instructed Deputy J.D. Campbell to set up stop sticks at the intersection of North Coastal Highway and Limerick Road.
Midway Police Department Officer Russell Knox, who assisted the deputies, placed the stop stick at Coastal EMC in Midway. The driver, with Calhoun in pursuit, continued on at speeds exceeding 90 mph. When he crossed the sticks, one tire was punctured, but the suspect continued on at a high rate of speed.
Eason joined the chase behind the van and Calhoun. The suspect continued on, at times driving in the left lane without slowing as sparks flew from the rim of the damaged tire.
Campbell set up a second set of stop sticks, which also failed to stop the driver, who continued on North Coastal Highway toward Richmond Hill. Oncoming traffic veered to the side of the road as the suspect continued to drive in the left lane.
Eason, realizing he was heading into a heavy-traffic area, requested permission from Lt. Shawn Fields to use a pit maneuver to disable the vehicle.
As the suspect approached Daniel Siding Loop Road in Bryan County, Eason pulled up to the van’s left side and performed the pit maneuver, using his cruiser to make contact with the vehicle and causing it to flip several times and land upside down.
Rodriquez-Bermudez, who was not wearing a seat belt, was trapped inside the vehicle and had to be removed by emergency responders. He was flown by helicopter to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, and his condition is unknown.
According to the sheriff’s office report, the suspect refused to provide blood for a blood-alcohol test. However, open beer containers were found in the van.
Eason was not injured in the accident.
Rodriquez-Bermudez faces charges of fleeing, reckless driving, DUI, driving on wrong side of roadway, open container, speeding above 90 mph, failure to obey a traffic-control device and failure to wear a seatbelt.
The van reportedly was stolen from a woman in Glynn County.