A deputy coroner has resigned from the Lexington County Coroner’s Office after his arrest Tuesday afternoon in West Columbia for driving under the influence.
Barry Wright was arrested just after 4 p.m. at the 100 block of Kleckley Drive, near Sunset Boulevard, after someone called the department reporting a man was sleeping in his car parked in the middle of the road, according to a West Columbia Police Department report.
Lexington County Coroner Earl Wells said Wright submitted a letter of resignation on Wednesday and no longer works for the coroner’s office. He would not comment further about the incident.
The report said the complainant pulled up behind Wright’s vehicle and blew his horn, but did not get a response. He then pulled up beside Wright’s vehicle and blew his horn a second time, but did not get a response. He then called the police.
The responding officer said Wright’s vehicle was stationary but still running and he had “his eyes closed and head slumped forward.” After the officer knocked on the window, Wright woke up “reached for the keys, and shut off the vehicle,” the report said.
When the officer asked Wright to step out of the vehicle, he observed an open 24-ounce beer can sitting in the center cup holder which was “half full” and “cold to the touch,” the report said.
When the officer asked Wright about the beer, “he responded, ‘I thought I was at the house,’” according to the report. Wright told the officer that he purchased the beer on the way home “but didn’t know how it was opened,” the report said.
When the officer walked away from Wright, he observed Wright take out a can of tobacco and place some in his mouth. Wright told the officer that the smell of alcohol coming from his breath was because “he had a ‘dip’ in the entire time.”
Wright was placed under arrest after he refused field sobriety tests and said the last time he consumed alcohol was four hours earlier. As Wright was being placed into the patrol car, he told officers the beer cans “did not need to be thrown away because they were from a death scene yesterday,” the report said.
However, both beers were still cold to the touch and had condensation on the cans, according to the report.
Wright was transported to the West Columbia Police Department headquarters, where he refused to provide a breath sample. After further investigation of the vehicle, two receipts showed Wright purchased two 24-ounce beers at 2:13 p.m. at Bi-Lo, the other receipt showed another two 24-ounce beers were purchased at 3:55 p.m.
Wright was transported to the Lexington County Detention Center, where he posted bail for $1,259, according to Major John Allard of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.