Man flees police, abandons 7-year-old in vehicle



An Augusta man abandoned a 7-year-old boy in his car while running from a Richmond County sheriff’s deputy Saturday, officials say.

About 7:35 p.m., Deputy Joseph Hawkins was driving on Bungalow Road near Richmond Hill Road when he recognized a white Cadil­lac Fleetwood from a traffic stop in late July, according to an incident report.

After running the vehicle’s tags, Hawkins learned that the car’s registration had been suspended and that it was uninsured. The driver refused to stop and Hawkins gave chase, and the driver ditched the car in the 100 block of Duncans Road.

After Hawkins lost sight of the fleeing suspect, he returned to the vehicle to find a boy sitting in the back seat. The child’s mother was called to pick him up.

The suspect, Juan Valdez Lan­ders, was identified by his driver’s license, which was found in a Bible in the rear of the vehicle.

Hawkins obtained a warrant against Landers on a charge of reckless conduct, with citations for driving while unlicensed, driving on suspended registration, no valid insurance and fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer.

As of Sunday afternoon, jail records didn’t show Landers had been arrested.