On Monday, July 31, a late-morning vehicle chase by Hardeeville Police Department ended on Highway 278 near Sun City after a man wrecked the stolen vehicle he was driving then fled on foot into a wooded area.
The pursuit started at around 11:30 a.m. when Hardeeville Police attempted a traffic stop on a mini-van on eastbound Highway 278. The man driving the mini-van did not stop and a pursuit began. The mini-van struck a passenger vehicle as the pursuit continued from Hardeeville into Beaufort County. The man driving the mini-van drove off of the roadway into a wooded area near Sun City, where the vehicle came to rest and he fled on foot into the woods. The man was described as African American, tall, slender build, wearing red shorts and no shirt.
A perimeter was quickly established and K-9 units responded to conduct a track for the subject. The Sheriff’s Office helicopter was also called in to fly over the area, as the suspect remained at large. A male passenger who remained behind in the mini-van as the suspect fled into the woods was interviewed by investigators. A check of the registration of the vehicle revealed that it had been reported stolen out of Palmetto Dunes on Hilton Head Island on Sunday. The mini-van was processed by investigators for forensic evidence. Fortunately, the adult female driver of the vehicle struck by the mini-van sustained only minor injuries. She was examined and treated by Emergency Medical Services at the scene.
Later Monday afternoon, a yellow pickup truck was reported stolen from outside a residence on Covern Drive in Sun City. The stolen pickup truck was seen on Highway 170 near Bluffton Parkway by Bluffton Police, who attempted a traffic stop. The driver of the pickup truck sped up on Bluffton Parkway causing a danger to the public, so the pursuit was ended. A number of calls from the public to Sheriff’s Office Emergency Dispatch regarding the recklessly operated pickup truck were received. The description of the driver matched that of the suspect of the earlier stolen vehicle pursuit.
Deputies and Hardeeville Police continued to search for the suspect, leading deputies to Oak View Road on Hilton Head Island, where the stolen pickup truck was found unoccupied. A perimeter was established in the Oak View Road area and K-9 units responded. The suspect responsible for stealing the pickup truck from Sun City was believed to be the same man from the earlier stolen vehicle pursuit.
Thomas Akeem Bryan was established as a person of interest in both incidents. Sheriff’s Office SWAT deputies extracted 30-year-old Bryan from his residence located on Oakview Road. Bryan was taken into custody Monday night on active felony bench warrants from Jasper County. Today’s pursuit and stolen vehicle incidents spanning from Hardeeville to Hilton Head Island remain under investigation and additional charges are expected. Bryan will be transported to the Beaufort County Detention Center and incarcerated on the authority of the Jasper County bench warrants. No injuries were reported in his arrest.