Suspected DUI Driver Tells Deputies He 'Freaked Out' After Striking Mailbox
Oconee County Sheriff's deputies arrested the 19-year-old Watkinsville man on Sunday morning. An arrest isn't a conviction.
A 19-year-old Watkinsville man was arrested on Sunday morning after authorities believe he drove an SUV into a mailbox, continued driving, and then plowed over bushes in another yard.
According to an Oconee County Sheriff's report, several callers had seen a possible intoxicated motorist around 8:40 a.m. in a 2007 Chevy Tahoe on Simonton Bridge Road heading toward Watkinsville.
The driver, according to the witnesses, drove off of the road, struck a mailbox, drove through a yard and then continued driving.
Deputies and Watkinsville Police responded to the area but did not see the vehicle. However, another officer was flagged down by a man who said his son had just driven an SUV into his driveway on Taylors Drive and that the vehicle had significant damage, according to the report.
The SUV's windshield was cracked in multiple places, the front bumper was heavily damaged and missing pieces, and the front passenger's side tire was flat, a deputy wrote in the report. Bushes in the front yard had been driven over and the SUV had apparently dragged an empty landscaping bag up Taylors Drive, he added.
The deputy also noted that he recognized the suspect, who was standing in the garage, from a previous arrest.
There was a "strong odor of burned marijuana" coming from the man's clothes, his eyes were bloodshot and he was unsteady on his feet," according to the deputy, and the man "also seemed to be under the influence of substances other than marijuana."
The man reportedly admitted to having been driving and told the deputy he knew he struck a mailbox but he did not stop because he "freaked out."
Though the deputy says the man refused sobriety tests, Coleman Bryant Thurston was taken into custody.
"Given the manifestations of impairment evidenced by Thurston's responses to my questions, the odor of burned marijuana, his admission to smoking marijuana prior to driving, his lack of balance, and the numerous driving complaints and evidence of Thurston's involvement in an accident, I placed Thurston under arrest for DUI-Drugs," the deputy wrote.
During a subsequent search of the vehicle, deputies say they found a small amount of marijuana. Thurston's father reportedly also gave officers a bag of five greenish-blue pills identified as Diazepam that he said he'd found on the back porch after the accident.
Additionally Thurston was charged with possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, failure to maintain lane, and hit and run/leaving the scene of an accident.