News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Aug. 9, 2013
Darrick Ray Cooper (WRDW-TV)
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- It was a high-speed chase that could've ended much differently.
"I could have been that other person driving home. I may not have been able to respond fast enough, and he could have claimed my life or one of my family members' or friends'," said Wanda Shepard, whose mother lives on Sizemore Avenue, near where the incident started.
New Ellenton Police Department Sgt. Hugh Ray says the chase started in New Ellenton just after 11 p.m. on Wednesday. Ray says officers got a call about a man causing a disturbance on Fairlane Avenue.
Ray says deputies and officers responded to find an unclothed man calling himself "God."
Officers say the suspect was "in an altered mental state due to illegal drug use."
When officers tried to calm the man, Ray says the suspect ran and ultimately stole Shepard's mother's car that had keys left in it.
He says a chase ensued that reached speeds up to 125 miles per hour and ended when the suspect crashed into trees and a fire hydrant at the intersection of Whiskey Road and Easy Street in Aiken.
The driver and suspect, Darrick Cooper, was tased after he allegedly struggled with officers.
Cooper was taken to Aiken Regional Medical Center by Aiken County EMS. Officials say his injuries appeared to be minor.
Afterward, Cooper was taken to the Aiken County Detention Center, where he now faces a number of charges.
"With the altered state he was in, he was a dire threat to the community," Ray said.
Cooper's charges include failure to stop for blue lights, grand theft auto, DUI, driving under suspension and reckless driving.
As for the woman whose car Cooper stole, she's not doing well. She's an elderly woman on a fixed income. She says her insurance didn't cover the incident. Ironically, the same woman's dog was also shot just months ago after a young man allegedly walked down Sizemore Avenue shooting at dogs.
The Aiken County Sheriff's Office, the Aiken Department of Public Safety, the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Jackson Police Department all assisted the New Ellenton Police Department.