09/12/06 — Wayne deputy arrested for DWI

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Wayne deputy arrested for DWI

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 12, 2006 1:54 PM

A Wayne County deputy was charged with drunken driving by Johnston County authorities after an accident early today in Johnston County, on the heels of an accident involving a Highway Patrol officer who was charged the same offense in Wayne County.

Wayne County Sheriff's Office Deputy Matt Sasser was charged after the accident, according to the state Highway Patrol.

No further details could be obtained from the Highway Patrol at presstime, but Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders confirmed the report, saying he was disappointed by the news.

"It's an unfortunate incident. This is a young man who had a bright future in law enforcement in front of him," Winders said this morning. "We stress professionalism and this should be no reflection on the rest of our officers."

The incident came a day after a state Highway Patrol officer was charged with drunken driving following a motorcycle accident

Trooper Darian N. Smith was traveling on Hare Road about 1:50 a.m. Monday when he lost control of his motorcycle and ran off the road, State Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said.

"He was thrown off the bike during the collision," Clendenin said.

Smith was based out of the Wilson Highway Patrol office. Officials say Smith spent about three hours at the scene of the crash before someone spotted him and called for help.

Smith was seriously injured in the crash, Clendenin said. He added Smith was charged with driving while impaired in the one-vehicle collision.

Emergency crews were dispatched to the scene and transported Smith to Wayne Memorial Hospital, officials said. Smith was later transported to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville after his injuries were evaluated.

"He has no life-threatening injuries, but he does have serious injuries," Clendenin said. Smith remained in serious condition, hospital officials confirmed today.

Troopers recently completed a massive campaign dubbed "Booze It & Lose It," aimed at keeping drunken drivers off the road over the Labor Day weekend.

Clendenin said the highway patrol office has an aggressive stance when it comes to drunken drivers. He said he was "disappointed" to learn one of their own might have done the one thing they are strongly against.

Drunken driving and speed are major factors in fatal vehicle crashes, officials say.

"We're sorry to hear about his injuries, but we're disappointed about his decision to drive after drinking," Clendenin said.

Clendenin stated there will be a criminal and internal investigation launched into the matter and added Smith could lose his job as a result of the findings.

Smith could also face jail time and court fines if convicted in the case.

"We'll apply the law as strictly as possible even if it's one of our own troopers," Clendenin said.