Deputy who crashed during Operation Thunder wasn't wearing seat belt

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Operation Thunder

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- News 12 has learned the Georgia State Patrol has not issued any citations in connection to the wreck. The crash report will be turned over to the Sheriff's Office for review.

Lt. Calvin Chew says he is not aware of any citations being issued but that the accident is being sent to the Accident Review Board and the Fleet Management Review. Chew says citations could follow that review.

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, March 4, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Operation Thunder is supposed to crack down on a number of reckless driving behaviors like speeding, driving under the influence and not wearing a seat belt.

But Trey Nicks says what he saw Friday night wasn't cutting down on reckless behavior ... it was creating it.

"Crazy amounts of cops, lights on, flying down the road," he said.

It's a sight many of you saw this weekend, and a sight that nearly scared Nicks to death.

"My first thought was something major had happened," he said.

But, nothing major happened. Deputies from all over the state were just rolling out in Augusta this weekend to head to checkpoints.

Lt. Lewis Blanchard with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office says, "The use of the caravans with the blue lights going, that is part of marketing to get the message out there."

He says it's all to publicize and market Operation Thunder, but the marketing strategy took a turn.

On the way to the checkpoint, a Richmond County deputy rear-ended another deputy from Habersham County.

We got our hands on the incident report from the Georgia State Patrol that says, not only was Richmond County Deputy Eard Trimmingham following too closely, but he also wasn't wearing a seat belt.

"This weekend alone, we had 43 interactions with seat belt violations, the majority of which were children," Blanchard said.

How is that for irony?

"I don't want to say idiotic, but it was definitely not the smartest thing they could have done," Nicks said.

Blanchard says to remember accidents do happen and that deputies are human.

"We're not robocops, and there is going to be some human error in judgment. And accidents, that's why they're called accidents," he said.

But, the circumstances do tend to frustrate some on the other side of the law.

"I don't see how that's efficient in any way, and I don't know if that was the publicity they were going for," Nicks said.

"Our goal is to reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities, and we certainly don't want to be a part of anything that isn't moving us forward in the right direction," Blanchard said.

As for Deputy Trimmingham, he will be required to take a remedial driving course as required by department policy.

Fleet management for the city will look into the accident as well. If the deputy is found at fault, he could be required to pay a percentage of the repair costs to the vehicles.

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