A Richmond County deputy involved in a crash with a Habersham County (Ga.) deputy while traveling to an Operation Thunder checkpoint will have to take a remedial driving course as part of department policy.
According to Georgia State Patrol Spokesman Gordy Wright, sheriff’s Deputy Eard Trimmingham was heading west on Interstate 20, near mile marker 199, behind Habersham County sheriff’s Deputy B.D. Loudermilk when the crash occurred around 7:30 p.m. Wright said Trimmingham, who has been with the department since 2009, hit the left rear of Loudermilk’s Dodge Charger with the right front of his Ford Police Interceptor.
Both deputies had their sirens and flashing lights on at the time of the crash.
Loudermilk, 21, was treated at the scene. Trimmingham, 46, was taken to Georgia Regents Medical Center for ligament damage and possible shoulder injuries.
Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew said crashes involving deputies used to go before the sheriff’s review board, but policy changes have eliminated that.
He said the crash will likely be deferred to Fleet Management. If a deputy is found at fault he could face paying a percentage of the damage to repair the vehicles.
The deputy will also be required to retake a driving course.
The crash occurred as deputies conducted Operation Thunder, a 90-day high-visibility campaign to cut down on driving violations.
Although the operation is conducted through the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, deputies from around the state and troopers with the Georgia State Patrol assist in the crackdown.
Chew said Loudermilk was one of the visiting deputies assisting in the campaign.
The operation began in Richmond County on Feb. 14 after a year of record-breaking fatalities on Richmond County roads. Forty-four people died last year, up from 35 in 2011.
Since the operation started, officers have written hundreds of citations and made numerous arrests. Officials said they hope the operation will help instill safer driving habits in Augusta drivers.
Deputies on Friday set up road checkpoints on Georgia Highway 56 near the county line, in the 3700 block of Walton Way Extension and on River Watch Parkway at Alexander Drive. On Saturday, they stationed checkpoints on Old Waynesboro Road and Brown Road, Tobacco Road and Gordon Highway at Hollaway Drive.
Sgt. Scott Redmon said deputies will alternate the location of road blocks so they cover all areas of the county, including problem areas and where people might not expect them.