DURHAM — May 18, 1996, 10:12 a.m. EDT
The commander of Durham's criminal investigations division was charged Friday with drunken and reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident. The charges stem from a Thursday night incident, in which Capt. R.S. Taylor allegedly rolled an unmarked detective's car down a 50-foot embankment, then left the scene in someone else's car while investigating troopers had their backs turned. Taylor was then the object of a 12-hour search.
Taylor surrendered at the magistrates' office Friday, accompanied by another police captain and an internal affairs investigator.
The wreck occurred on Guess Road near the Eno River bridge. Taylor, who was off-duty at the time, flipped the car.
Taylor is a 20-year veteran of the Durham force, and one of its top five officers. He has been put on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
According to highway patrol reports, Taylor was driving an estimated 85 miles an hour along Guess Road around 11 p.m. He lost control of the 1992 Ford Taurus, skidded and then the car rolled down the embankment. Sheriff's deputies were the first on the scene, and notified the highway patrol. When they realized who the mud-covered driver was, they also called the Durham Police Department. Police dispatched their own investigators.
The patrol also said that Taylor was calling people on his cellular phone, and arranged to be picked up.
They said they told Taylor to wait at roadside, while they checked out the car. As they made their way down the embankment, a woman drove up, picked up Taylor and drove off.
Investigators were unable to locate him. Although a field sobriety test was not administered, Taylor was charged with DWI because deputies said they smelled alcohol on his breath. No alcohol was found at the scene.
He was released on $1,000 and a hearing is slated for June 10.
When Taylor turned himself in, he came through a rear entrance to avoid reporters out front. The magistrate on duty refused to allow reporters to observe his bond hearing.
Trooper David Clark was quoted as saying, "Taylor fled the scene willingly, knowing it was the wrong thing to do. It's taken me twice as long to investigate this accident due to his leaving.