A Columbia County, Georgia sheriff’s deputy reported to his superiors suspicious activity at a the scene of a fiery accident Saturday on I-20 that brought the arrest of two of his colleagues on the sheriff’s department along with a lieutenant and firefighter from Columbia County Fire Rescue. Two firefighters from Augusta who responded to the crash have been placed on leave and are under investigation.
Two officers with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office have been arrested and fired after being accused of taking items from the scene of a crash Saturday. Two firefighters also are charged in the case.
Sgt. Mark Smith, 38, of Augusta, and Deputy Wesley Harden, 32, of Harlem, responded to an accident with injuries on Interstate 20 near mile marker 195. One driver was taken to the hospital, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
While working the accident, Smith and Harden took property that did not belong to them, as did Columbia County Fire Rescue Lt. Christopher D. Ganther, 41, the news release said. The items taken were cellphone covers, Bluetooth headsets and cellphone chargers that were scattered at the scene, according to the news release.
The Augusta Fire Department says two of their firefighters are on administrative leave pending the theft investigation surrounding a crash on I-20 Saturday, Feb. 20.
Sergeant Antonie Mullins and firefighters Wesly Hughes are on administrative leave without pay. Authorities are investigating their possible involvement in the theft of private property from the scene of a crash.
Investigators have arrested two Columbia County deputies and one firefighter. Deputies Sergeant Mark G. Smith, 38, Deputy Wesley G. Harden, 32, and firefighter Lieutenant Christopher D. Ganther, 41, have all been charged with Theft by Taking and Violation of Oath of Office.
A second Columbia County firefighter, Randall K. Atchison, 38, was arrested and charged with lying during the Sheriff’s Office internal investigation. According to Major Steve Morris, investigators are not sure if he actually stole anything.