Joy rides lands fireman in jail

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2005

WINTON n A Winton fireman was jailed under a $27,000 secured bond here Thursday morning after he allegedly took a trio of fire vehicles out for an unauthorized spin.

Christopher Lee Bailey, 20, of Winton was arrested by Winton Police Chief David Griffith on eight misdemeanor counts, three each of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and damage to property as well as one count each of damage to real property and driving while license was suspended.

Chief Griffith said Bailey's license was recently suspended for a DWI arrest in Ahoskie. Griffith said it appeared alcohol was involved in Thursday's arrest as he discovered alcoholic beverage bottles in and around the fire vehicles.

"This all occurred in the early morning hours of Thursday, somewhere between 3 and 6 a.m.," Griffith reported. "(Bailey) told us he just drove around town in the vehicles. However, we do have reason to believe he drove one of the vehicles as least as far as Tunis."

Griffith said damage was caused to all three vehicles n a 1990 International pumper, a 2003 Freightliner tanker and a 1986 GMC brush truck. The Winton lawman also said damage was done on the Winton Fire Department building, where the vehicles are parked.

James Broglin, Chief of the Winton Volunteer Fire Department, confirmed Bailey was a member of the department. He said Bailey is currently suspended from his role as a volunteer firefighter until the Winton firemen conduct their next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 21.

"Chris first joined our department as a junior firefighter in 2001," Broglin said. "He was very active in that role and always showed me he was eager to learn."

Broglin said Bailey became a full-fledged member of the Winton Fire Department about a year to a year and one-half ago.

"Again, he was very active in that role as well," Broglin noted.

The Winton Fire Chief stressed that Thursday's incident was "a shock to all of us here in the department."

"He was a good kid; we never had any sort of trouble with him," Broglin said. "I do not think he did this nor do I think he would do anything to intentionally harm our fire department."

Broglin said a local body shop was currently in the process of estimating the total damages to the three vehicles. Those damages included scrapes, scratches and to a set of emergency lights on the back of one of the vehicles.

He added that the damage to the fire station was minimal n a few bricks knocked out of a wall.