A Florida man has been charged with trafficking marijuana after his vehicle slammed into a Highway Patrolman’s car.
Howard R. Fisher of Daytona Beach Shores, Fla. was arrested following a multi-car accident Sunday on Interstate 95 near Santee. The 54-year-old was charged with driving under the influence, possession of cocaine and trafficking marijuana.
Officials say they found 43 pounds of marijuana bagged up in 77 individual plastic bags in his vehicle.
“This amount of drugs on the street causes problems. It was going to cause somebody a lot of problems somewhere,” Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams said.
Investigators haven’t determined where the marijuana was headed. But somebody farther north than Santee is out of about $153,000 worth of marijuana, officials say.
The bust followed a series of car accidents on I-95 Sunday morning that began at about 2:30 a.m. after a northbound 18-wheeler was overturned by a strong gust of wind on the bridge spanning Lake Marion.
That accident and the resulting slowdown in traffic to the south resulted in another accident.
“Traffic was moving at about 20 mph,” S.C. Highway Patrol Troop 7 Capt. Chris Williamson said. “That’s when a car hit the back of the traffic.”
No one was seriously injured as a result of that second accident, Williamson said.
Moving their vehicles to secure that scene, Lance Cpl. Jamie Burriss and Cpl. Travis Manley placed their cruisers each in a lane to shield the second accident from any oncoming cars.
Manley said he was standing at the right rear of Burriss’ car when he saw it coming. He just barely got out of the way before a moving vehicle slammed into Burriss’ cruiser.
“I would say about 70 mph,” Manley said of the 2007 Chevrolet Malibu which crashed into the rear of Burriss’ Crown Victoria patrol cruiser. “There was really nowhere we could go.”
The Crown Victoria, with Burriss seated at the wheel, was shoved forward about 60 feet, Manley said. The Malibu, which police say was driven by Fisher, veered off into the median.
A 10-year SCHP veteran, Burriss will be out of service for a week of bed rest after suffering what Williamson said were relatively minor injuries.
The sheriff’s office was called in to investigate the last accident since protocol will not allow the SCHP to investigate accidents in which its officers are involved. That’s when Fisher’s day further deteriorated.
“I immediately noticed he was real lethargic acting, real slow to speak,” said OCSO Deputy Warren Pendry. “At that point, we made an arrest for DUI.”
Searching inside the vehicle, Pendry found what looked like a few marijuana cigarettes and a white powdery substance which field tested positive for cocaine.
Pendry says when he opened the trunk of the car, he found two large duffle bags.
“As soon as I saw it, I mashed it and heard plastic rattling,” Pendry said.
First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said Fisher could be facing up to 10 years in prison on the trafficking charge alone if he’s convicted. Bond was denied for Fisher Monday afternoon.