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Grand jury opts not to indict Berkeley County deputy over fatal motorcycle chase, crash

(BCSO)

A Dorchester County Grand Jury has opted not to indict a Berkeley County deputy involved in an April chase and crash which ended in a motorcyclist's death in Summerville.

According to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, the Dorchester County Grand Jury chose Thursday not to indict Deputy James Vansant on any charges after reviewing evidence related to Vansant's pursuit of Robert L. Clark, Jr, on April 19.

Clark died after his motorcycle wedged between a bystander's car and a curb along N. Main Street/U.S. Hwy. 17-A in Summerville. Clark was being pursued by Deputy Vansant after Clark refused to stop when Deputy Vansant says he attempted to pull over Clark for speeding (66 mph in a 45 mph zone) on College Park Road in Ladson.

Dash camera video of the incident provided by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office shows Deputy Vansant chased Clark for nearly 6 minutes over more than seven miles, with speeds reaching as high as 112 miles per hour. Along the way, Clark ran three red lights and drove on the wrong side of the road several times.

The chase wound up on N. Main Street in Summerville, where video shows speeds exceeded 90 mph in a posted 30 mph zone. Deputy Vansant's vehicle collided with the rear of Clark's motorcycle moments before Clark ultimately crashed. The sheriff’s office says Clark slowed dramatically after he appeared to “miss a gear,” causing the collision.

Moments later, Clark lost control as he attempted to pass a bystander's vehicle on the right side of the road between the car and the curb. Clark, who was not wearing a helmet, died at the scene despite attempts to revive him. Investigators found marijuana in Clark's possession after the crash.

The BCSO placed Deputy Vansant on administrative leave until the case could be thoroughly investigated by the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the findings of which were provided to the Dorchester County Grand Jury along with the Dorchester County Coroner's Office report on the incident.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office says it will now complete an internal investigation of the incident. Deputy Vansant will remain on leave pending the outcome of the investigation, the sheriff's office says.

"It is important to realize that deputies have a dangerous job," Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said in a statement Thursday. "Traffic stops and domestic violence investigations are among the most dangerous and unpredictable things that they do. It’s unfortunate that a loss of life occurred in this case and both families have been impacted by this incident."

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