Police chase man across Savannah River

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email

News 12 First at Five, July 6, 2007

SAVANNAH RIVER, GA/SC-- It wasn't your typical rescue from the Savannah River after a Columbia County man swims from South Carolina to Georgia trying to run from police.

The chase started in North Augusta after a call about a man drinking in public. Officers say he was then seen attacking a woman near the 13Th street bridge.

His name is Cleveland Hair Junior. He's the man who made the trek from North Augusta shoreline across the Savannah onto a Georgia embankment within a matter of minutes.

He's also the man who started off the morning with one warrant for his arrest and now faces a total of six warrants from two states and 3 different counties.

News 12 caught up with Hair shortly after being pulled from the Augusta side of the Savannah, where he made it clear he was not happy with the attention. "Get the camera out of my face. Gawleey. Ain't never seen a man hurt?"

Well not a man with a story like this. He's 39-year-old Cleveland Hair Jr.
And as the video shows, he had quite a day. That's after leading North Augusta police on a foot chase, then a water chase, before finally washing ashore in Georgia.

Mr. Hair's first run in with the law for the day came around 11 in the morning in the parking lot of Gary's Hamburgers. North Augusta spotted him and another woman drinking and wrote them a ticket for public consumption but that was not his only ticket of the day.

A little later a second call, also to North Augusta from down the road at this Circle K convenience store. A man and a woman were fighting near the 13th street bridge and by the time officers arrived, they say Mr. Hair was physically assaulting the woman.

And once he saw police he took off down the embankment and ended up in Harry Fuller's backyard. "He was panicking. Looking for his dog. He was talking very fast. He wanted my help but I said hadn't seen the dog, I can't help you."

Fuller says Hair ran up his driveway only to turn back around when he spotted police. Then Hair did something that can only be described as a little strange, running down Fuller's dock and jumping into the Savannah.

Fuller listened as police tried to help Hair out of the water. "He said he didn't trust North Augusta. He wanted to go on over to Richmond County and let Richmond County get him."

But despite North Augusta's efforts to rescue Mr. Hair by jet ski, and by boat, he finally swam to the Georgia shore with quite a story, and now an arrest record to prove it.

He was taken to the hospital by his own request. Then charged for giving authorities on both sides of the river false information, after lying about his identity and date of birth.

His own mother gave his correct identity to investigators. That's when police say they realized why Hair was on the run, by land and by water. He's wanted in Columbia County GA for a probation violation for cocaine possession, which is a felony.

After today, he can add five more misdemeanor counts to that from North Augusta and Richmond County, including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assault.


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