Two area men have found out just how serious N.C. Highway Patrol troopers take reports of drag-racing, with both now facing misdemeanor charges related to a pre-arranged speed competition alleged to have taken place two weeks ago on Tyndall Grove Road near Rebel City.
Dennis Beal, 39, of 875 Vander Road, Autryville, and Steven Temple, 28, of 2201 Autry Mill Road, Godwin, both face one misdemeanor count each of pre-arranged speed competition.
While the charge is a misdemeanor, Highway Patrol Sgt. Bryan Smith said N.C. General Statues require that the vehicles involved in any alleged drag racing be seized at the time of arrest.
That’s exactly what happened, with troopers confiscating Beal’s 1999 Ford Mustang and Temple’s 2012 Mustang.
“If they are found guilty of the charges, those vehicles can be auctioned off by the county,” Smith said.
The pair are charged with what amounts to drag racing at “speeds well in excess of the speed limit” on the straight stretch of Tyndall Grove Road on May 14.
Smith said an investigation into the incident began after an anonymous complaint was called into the Highway Patrol’s Clinton office.
“Through our investigation we found probable cause, consulted the district attorney and were able to bring the charges,” Smith said, noting that the pair were charged Tuesday.
While Smith declined to release the exact speeds the pair are alleged to have been going during the drag race, he did say it was believed they were “operating the vehicles in a very reckless” manner.
The stretch of Tyndall Grove Road where Beal and Temple are alleged to have used for their race is a straight stretch of highway that runs at least one-half mile.
Smith lauded the individual who made the complaint and urged others who might have information on this particular incident or other drag-racing occurrences to call the Patrol station at 910-592-3141.
“We want to send a strong message that we are not going to tolerant that kind of activity on our roadways,” Smith stressed. “We appreciate the call that came in, and we would appreciate others and follow up on them just like we did this one.” Drag racing, Smith said, was extremely dangerous to both those involved and others who might happen upon such a competition.
“It’s very dangerous. Somebody could get seriously hurt, the drivers or someone traveling the road.”
Temple was given a $2,500 bond and released. Beal, on the other hand, was served his at the Detention Center where he had been jailed over the weekend on other charges.
According to Smith, Beal was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center Sunday after another complaint.
“The Communication Center got a complaint around 7:30 p.m. Sunday about someone driving recklessly in the area of Minnie Hall Road and Trooper (J.D.) Duff went to investigate.
When Duff arrived in the area, he observed a man, later identified as Beal, run a stop sign. The trooper made the traffic stop and discovered that the driver was impaired and carrying a weapon.
“It was discovered that Mr. Beal had a domestic violence protective order against him and the fact that he had a weapon was a violation. In addition to that, we learned he was also a felon,” Smith said.
Beal was taken into custody and charged with possession of a firearm by felon, possession of a firearm while under a domestic violence protection order, driving while impaired and reckless driving.
For those charges, his bond was $75,000.He received an additional $2,500 bond for the drag racing charge.
(Editor Sherry Matthews can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 111. Follow her on Twitter at sieditor1960 or the newspaper @sampsonind, and like us on Facebook)