COVINGTON — Concerned that a man who crashed his car into a playground was attempting to drive away, a witness to the wreck pulled the suspected drunk driver from the car and held on to his keys until the authorities could arrive, according to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.
Just after 7:30 p.m. Monday, witnesses at the Arbor Lake Apartments on Kirkland Road saw a blue Mercury Sable drive through the apartment complex parking lot, run over the curb and hit the playground, where some children were playing.
“It appeared that the driver attempted to leave the scene, so a witness pulled the man from the car and took the keys from the car to keep him there,” said Sgt. Cortney Morrison.
Morrison said the Sheriff’s Office is always grateful when citizens cooperate with authorities. For instance, she said, earlier in the week witnesses were instrumental in helping deputies and Covington Police Department officers track down and apprehend an armed robbery suspect just minutes after the crime was reported.
“Once again, help from the public led to arrests,” Morrison said.
At the same time, she advised that people avoid situations where they could get hurt.
“It worked out in this situation; however, we don’t want innocent bystanders in a position where they can get hurt,” she said. “The driver could have had a gun or a knife. You just don’t know.”
Deputies who responded to the Arbor Lake wreck noticed the odor of alcohol coming from the driver, later identified as 56-year-old James Morgan Fuqua, but he refused to take a field sobriety test.
“Deputies questioned Mr. Fuqua who else was in the car with him, and he told deputies it was just him,” Morrison said. “However, multiple witnesses at the scene said they saw another person in the car and saw him leave.”
Fuqua was arrested and charged with DUI, reckless driving and obstruction of law enforcement officers.
Deputies were able to determine that the passenger in the car was Fuqua’s son, James Morgan Fuqua Jr., 28, and that he had outstanding warrants for probation violation from Porterdale and Covington. When they went to his apartment, however, he was not there.
Sometime later, the Sheriff’s Office received a phone call that he was back home.
“They responded back to Arbor Lake and saw him standing outside his apartment. He said he wanted to turn himself in for the outstanding warrants,” Morrison said.