GROVETOWN, Ga. (WJBF) – Grovetown, Georgia city leaders say the person responsible for driving through a community park is now in custody but the investigation is still ongoing.
Police arrested James Smith of Grovetown.
Smith will be transported to the Columbia County Detention Center where he will be charged
with Criminal Damage to Property/2nd Degree and Interference with Government Property. He’s also facing numerous traffic offenses, including Driving under the influence.
Parts of the park are now closed to the public. Police say a person who lives near the area called dispatch after seeing the damages around 9:00 p.m.. Saturday. Investigators believe it was intentional and so do people who go to the park.
“It’s just a matter of time before we find the individual or individuals responsible and we will make sure they are punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones.
Those words came from the Mayor just hours before police made the arrest. Criminal Investigators were on the scene at Goodale Park in Grovetown after reports of someone driving through the park hitting the pavilion and part of the dog park.
“Obviously because of safety reasons we got it closed right now. We got construction crews coming out tomorrow to look at these construction problems as far as the pillars and the foundation as it relates to the pavilion so hopefully we can get that started pretty quick,” said Mayor Jones.
He says with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching it could be some time before the construction is completed, but for now, the park is still safe and they’re looking to add more safety measures to keep this from happening again.
“We’re going to put up some barriers, prevention areas to stop vehicles from accessing this particular area and maybe that will stop this from happening in the future,” he said.
Track marks throughout the park show where the vehicle drove through it.
“My husband and the kids and their grandparents were just here yesterday and everything was fine, so we came back today and it’s like what happened,” said Ashley Postme.
“It’s a shock, it’s crazy, I was not expecting that, you know it’s Sunday morning,” said Marisa Cook.
And now a lot of them are outraged after seeing the damage.
“It sucks to have something that’s nice, especially nice for the kids, that somebody just ruined,” said Postme.
“Kinda sad because I wanted to play here more, so I don’t want it to be all broken up,” said Ethan Anderson.
“A lot of people are getting behind the wheel when they shouldn’t be,” said Matthew Mathis.
And Grovetown leaders are not pleased either.
“I don’t blame them, because all taxpayers should be concerned about it. I mean all taxpayers should be concerned about it because it comes out of their taxes to fix this stuff but, more so than that is it’s a great place where they come to enjoy with their families and as a result of what happened, it’s put a damper in that,” said the Mayor.
People who live out here say the Pavilion had just been added to the park. Regardless, of what happened, people still plan to utilize the park, and you can too. The only areas that are not open to the public is the pavilion and the dog park.