Raising the Heide Trask Drawbridge on Wednesday, Feb. 5, allowed Wrightsville Beach police to trap and catch a white male suspect who was reported driving careless and reckless through town at speeds in excess of 70 mph.
At about 5:23 p.m., Anthony Lawrence Arch, a 52-year-old Fayetteville, N.C., resident, received citations for aggressive driving, driving during revocation, possession of drug paraphernalia and open container.
Wrightsville Beach 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.
The WBPD repeatedly received calls that the vehicle was in various 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 … he was heading off the beach,” House said. “Just to stop him they … asked to have the bridge raised.”
Arch allegedly parked under someone’s house on Atlanta Street, got out of the vehicle and ran onto the beach strand. He was finally apprehended near one of the beach bars.
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 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 Arch was taken to a local hospital to be evaluated and released.
Wilmington Police Department officers arrested Arch at 301 N. Front St. for failure to appear and failure to comply the same day at 5:05 p.m., though it is unclear whether or not he was detained, released or fled as of press time.
As of Tuesday, Feb. 11, Arch was in New Hanover County Jail for three failure to appear charges.
House said the police department rarely raises the bridge to catch suspects, but it proved a useful tactic.
“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. 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.”
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.