ONLINE UPDATE: Raising bridge leads to suspect's citations

by Kelly Corbett
Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wrightsville Beach police raised the Heide Trask Drawbridge on Wednesday, Feb. 5, to catch a white male suspect driving careless and reckless through town at speeds in excess of 70 mph.

Anthony Arch, a 52-year-old Fayetteville resident, received citations for several violations, including open container and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police chief Dan House said the Wilmington Police Department originally received two calls about a white Range Rover driving careless and reckless on Wrightsville Avenue.

“Shortly after that, we started getting calls about a careless and reckless white Range Rover,” House said, citing a time of about 5:45 p.m.

The department kept receiving calls that the vehicle was in separate locations in Wrightsville Beach, and four officers responded trying to get to the locations, on the north and south ends of the beach.

“At one point, the direction of travel was that he was heading off the beach, just to stop him they went ahead and asked to have the bridge raised,” House said.

Arch allegedly parked under someone’s house on Atlanta Street, got out of the vehicle and ran onto the beach.

“They finally wound up catching him over near one of the beach bars,” House said.

The chase lasted about 10 to 15 minutes. There was a miscommunication between the 911 center and the bridge tender, which left the bridge raised slightly longer than necessary.

“When it was all said and done, they wound up committing him, because they could tell that he had some psychological issues as well,” House said, adding that he was taken to the hospital where he could be evaluated.

He said the police department does not often raise the bridge to catch suspects, but it is a tactic used.

“Our thought process there is two things; if we have somebody that’s getting to those speeds to try to get away to get off the beach, he’s putting not only our citizens in danger but citizens in Wilmington in danger. The second part of that is that keeps our officers from having to go 70 or 100 mph to try to chase this person down. …It allows us to back off a little bit, because we know that they can’t go anywhere. Hopefully that would cause them to back off a little bit and not go the speeds that they are.”

House said this instance is one of the few times the bridge works in the department’s favor, it is usually the opposite. He did not know the last time the tactic was used and could not remember an instance since he’s been at the department within the past three years.

This full story will be printed on Thursday, Feb. 13.


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