Public safety briefs for January 11th-17th

10 mins read

Woman says she was sexually assaulted

A woman was found screaming for help after she said she was sexually assaulted in the area of Penn Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, according to a release from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

The release stated that at approximately 6:15 a.m. on Dec. 27, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area on St. Helena Island regarding a female screaming for help.

Deputies located a woman in the area of Ball Park Road and Sea Island Parkway who told them she had been sexually assaulted by an unknown black man on a dirt road across from Penn Center.

The victim also said when she fled the area she lost her shoes and handbag.

Emergency Medical Services responded and transported the victim to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for evaluation. 

Sheriff’s office personnel found the victim’s shoes, handbag and other personal items. 

The incident is under investigation.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Sgt. Brandon Disbrow at 843-255-3407, or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC to remain anonymous and for a possible reward. 

Woman wanted for alleged counterfeiting


The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is attempting to identify the pictured individual who they say paid for merchandise with two $100 counterfeit bills. The money was marked for promotional use only. 

The incident occurred on Dec. 27 at Walmart at 4 Bluffton Road in Bluffton.

The suspect left in a Toyota Camry with tags that belonged to another vehicle.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lt. Cpl. Hardy at 843-255-3310; Beaufort County Dispatch at 843-524-2777; or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC to remain anonymous and for a possible reward.

Firefighters respond to 4 car accidents 


The Burton Fire District responded to four motor vehicle accidents after midnight on Dec. 30, including one vehicle that rolled over. However, no injuries resulted from the accidents.

Burton firefighters responded to the first accident at approximately midnight at the intersection of Broad River Boulevard and Rice Road. Firefighters arrived to a single vehicle that had struck a power pole. While the vehicle suffered heavy damage, the driver was not injured in the collision. The pole suffered minor damages.

Burton firefighters responded to the second motor vehicle accident just before 12:30 a.m. at the intersection of Grober Hill and Castle Rock roads. Firefighters arrived to a single vehicle in the ditch. The driver was uninjured. Firefighters responded to a third motor vehicle accident on Midtown Drive in Port Royal. This single-vehicle accident also resulted in no injuries. 

Burton firefighters responded to their fourth motor vehicle accident just before 3 a.m. on Robert Smalls Parkway and Ashton Point. Firefighters arrived to find a van on its side. The driver, who was wearing a seatbelt, was able to escape and was not injured. Firefighters remained on the scene to assist the driver and secure the hazards. Traffic on Robert Smalls Parkway was delayed for approximately 30 minutes. 

Pedestrian hit by car suffers serious injuries

Just before 10 p.m. on Dec. 24, Burton firefighters were dispatched to a report of a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Joe Frazier and Cherokee Farms Road. Firefighters arrived to find a man unconscious with potentially serious injuries. 

The injured man was transported to the hospital. The intersection was shut down for approximately an hour while emergency crews assisted the injured, removed roadway hazards and investigated the accident. 

Three cooking-related fires raise concerns

The Burton Fire District responded to three fire calls in less than 24 hours on Dec. 22 that were related to cooking.

At approximately 4 p.m., firefighters responded to a fire alarm on Abbey Row. Firefighters arrived and found smoke coming from a third-floor window. The resident told firefighters she turned on the stove not realizing that the burner she turned on had a plastic item on it. The subsequent smoke filled the home and activated the fire alarm. Firefighters assisted the resident by removing smoke from her home and ensuring the fire was out.

Just minutes later, Burton and MCAS Beaufort firefighters were dispatched to a report of a house fire at a doublewide motor home in the Independent Mobile Home Park on Shanklin Road. 

Smoke was coming from the home and as firefighters entered the resident was trying to find his way outside. The fire was caused by cooking on the stove; however, the homeowner was able to extinguish the fire prior to firefighter’s arrival. Firefighters provided medical assistance to the homeowner who suffered minor smoke inhalation. The resident was not transported to the hospital. 

Firefighters checked the kitchen stove area to ensure the fire did not spread and assisted with smoke removal from the residence. 

Then, at about 6 p.m., Burton and MCAS firefighters responded to a fire alarm at Magnolia Park Apartments on Laurel Bay Road. They arrived to find residents evacuating and smoke coming from a second-floor apartment.

The resident fell asleep while cooking and the unattended food ignited. Growing flames spread to the cabinets, activating the fire alarm system and a single fire sprinkler head which extinguished the fire before the first fire truck arrived. 

Cooking is the leading cause of fires and Burton fire officials are urging citizens to be extra careful when at the stove and to place home fire extinguishers where they can be seen, quickly accessed and used. 

SCDNR assists in case of reptile trafficking

Gila monsters are protected by state law in Arizona and by federal law. Photo by Jeff Servoss; courtesy USFWS.
Gila monsters are protected by state law in Arizona and by federal law. Photo by Jeff Servoss; courtesy USFWS.

An Arizona man has been prosecuted by federal authorities for the sale of reptiles protected in that state in a case with ties to South Carolina.

Investigators with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Law Enforcement Division assisted federal authorities with the case, in which the defendant, Jonathan Sampson Benson, pled guilty to taking reptiles from Arizona and selling them in South Carolina. 

In November 2013, Benson sold two falsely labeled Gila monsters, two prairie rattlesnakes, two tiger rattlesnakes and one speckled rattlesnake in interstate commerce. 

Benson was also charged with making a similar transaction in July 2014. This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the SCDNR.

“We were glad to be able to provide assistance to federal authorities and to our colleagues in Arizona to help bring this case to a successful conclusion,” Col. Chisolm Frampton, SCDNR’s deputy director for law enforcement, said recently. “I’m very proud of the work our officers did on this case.”

Benson pleaded guilty on three counts of federal Lacey Act violations. The court then ordered him to serve five years of probation and pay $2,225 restitution to the Lacey Act Reward Account and $2,500 to the Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Theft Prevention Fund. 

Benson was also ordered to forfeit all wildlife to the government, which includes two Gila monsters, two prairie rattlesnakes, two tiger rattlesnakes, one speckled rattlesnake, one Hopi rattlesnake and one Arizona black rattlesnake. 

The Lacey Act prohibits people from importing, exporting, transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring or purchasing any fish or wildlife or plant taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law, treaty or regulation of the United States or in violation of any tribal law.

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