Valdosta Daily Times

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February 12, 2014

Valdosta councilman charged in car wreck

VALDOSTA — A Valdosta city councilman turned himself in to police and was arrested after a single-vehicle traffic incident early Sunday morning, according to Valdosta police.

District 1 Valdosta City Councilman James Wright, 54, has been charged in the case, according to the Valdosta Police Department.

At approximately 3 a.m. Sunday, a Valdosta police officer was traveling south along the 100 block of North Lee Street near the intersection of East Central Avenue where he noticed an abandoned white Ford F-150 truck on the west side of the street. After investigating the vehicle, the officer determined that its front passenger side collided with a utility pole then continued moving forward onto the curb, running over a speed limit sign before coming to a stop at the next utility pole, reports stated.

The officer noted that the right passenger tire, front right bumper, front headlight and right-side mirror had sustained severe damage. The officer also noted that no keys were in the ignition and that the vehicle smelled of alcohol, but no containers were found, according to reports.

The vehicle was registered to James R. Wright, reports stated.

“I was contacted by Mr. Wright Sunday morning through one of his friends who said Councilman Wright made a mistake and was involved in an accident,” said Brian Childress, Valdosta police chief. “He turned himself in and was charged and was taken to the Lowndes County Jail.”

Wright was reportedly the only person in the truck at the time of the collision. He did not remain at the scene because alcoholic beverages had been consumed earlier in the evening, reports stated.

Wright has not been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, said Childress. “The Georgia DUI statute states that a person can only be charged with a DUI within three hours of the incident.”

Wright is charged with accident hit and run, failure to maintain lane and failure to notify owner after striking a fixed object, according to Valdosta

police reports. He was booked at the Lowndes County Jail and later released on bond, according to reports.

“Wright was treated like anyone else is treated. We don’t treat anyone different,” said Childress.

Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson was informed of the arrest Sunday morning but told The Times that any action taken in regards to Wright’s position as a councilman would have to be decided by the City Council.

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