Thomas Bradford was trying to protect you.
He was trying to prevent your sludge from being spread on your public roadways. For this, a jury of your peers has given him a life sentence.
You can be proud of your Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus for protecting a few Columbia County employees, but not for protecting you.
This tragic accident on April 1, 2011, is a direct result of a Columbia County employee intentionally overfilling trailers that travel on your public roadways. This tragic accident could have been prevented, and two men would not have lost their lives.
Thomas Bradford repeatedly, over a two-year period, tried to notify the supervisors of Columbia County Waste Water that it is unsafe and illegal to transport an overfilled trailer of sludge on a public roadway. They chose to ignore these warnings.
Thomas has no prior criminal history. He was a truck driver living in Richmond County, working for a company in McDuffie County, who transported your sludge out of Columbia County.
He was passionate about following safety rules related to his truck and performing his job well. Thomas was a solitary man who just wanted to do his job and go home. He liked being alone in his truck with the companionship of his dog, and listening to the talk radio stations. He also liked to talk, and never met a stranger.
His interests were skydiving, kayaking, hiking and tent camping. He did not participate in contact sports. He is a peaceful man. He enjoyed his own company and his own space and freedom. He only shared his space with a few friends and family.
Thomas’ account of the event was that he was being assaulted and that he pulled his gun out of his pocket to stop the assault. Thomas’ dog, Rascalle, watched from the truck’s window; how we wish that she could speak.
An eyewitness sat in a golf cart 137 yards away and watched as if he expected something to happen. The tractor and trailer blocked his view of some of the activity. He knew the trailer was overfilled.
Instead of going about his job, he chose to sit and watch how Bradford would react. Let’s overfill the trailer again today and see what Bradford will do. The confrontation was set up by Raymond Lee, and resulted in a tragic accidental shooting.
Clearly, the eyewitness is feeling guilty for allowing this to happen. The supervisors are guilty of allowing this confrontation to happen. We hope the public interest in the outcome of this trial will result in an investigation of the supervision of the Waste Water Department and the protection of the employees and the public. Placing all the blame on Thomas should not release them from their negligence.
We love our son very much and we want him home with us. Since we retired, we had been enjoying his company by sharing our recreational time together kayaking, hiking and camping. We also are a very private family and keep to ourselves. We have always lived by the Golden Rule. We are not active members of large organizations, but instead we are blessed with a small group of very close friends. We thank these friends for their prayers and love and support that give us our strength.
We have sympathy for the Lee family and would like to take this opportunity to express our sympathy for the loss of their son, husband, father and brother. However, taking our son away from us will not bring Raymond back to them.
The assistant district attorney told the jury to send a message to the community. The jury and the court system have sent a very clear message: You cannot defend yourself in Columbia County.
The Thomas Bradford family