Waynesboro, Ga., man drives truck into Savannah River, arrested after police chase



A Waynesboro, Ga., man who fled police Friday afternoon drove his pickup into the Savannah River then swam across to South Carolina before being taken into custody.

Richmond County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton identified the man as Henry Church, 43, who had outstanding warrants in Burke and Richmond counties.

Clayton said Board of Education police called the Sheriff’s Office when they spotted Church, who was recognized as a suspect in an earlier shooting.

Board of Education officers followed Church from Lumpkin Road to Lock and Dam Road where they stopped him.

Clayton said he and another deputy showed up to assist the officer when Church sped off in the direction of New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam Park. Three patrol cars gave chase while Church tore down narrow roadways, knocking over several wooden pylons and striking a bridge.

“We chased it about mile down Lock and Dam (Road) all the way to (the boat ramp) before he drove out into the water,” Clayton said.

When his white Ford F-150 began to sink, Church exited the truck and began to swim toward the South Carolina side of the river. Clayton said one officer jumped into the river, but was called back because the situation was too dangerous.

“If a deputy swims out to him and they get into a fight, they could both wind up drowning,” he explained.

Church made it to the other side of the river and escaped into the treeline before he was apprehended by Aiken County sheriff’s deputies.

Less than two hours after the incident, a three-man dive team located the submerged vehicle and connected it to a nearby tow truck. About 30 mintues later, investigators were able to inspect the vehicle on dry land.

Clayton said the sheriff’s office is still investigating the shooting incident that preceeded the car chase.

“I don’t know much about the shooting yet,” he said. “We don’t know if anyboy has been shot. All I know is shots were fired. That’s all we received from the Board of Education police.”