Few Augustans can forget the arrest of former WGAC freelance reporter Scott Hudson over the Fourth of July weekend for operating a vessel under the influence and not wearing a personal floatation device on the Savannah River.
After all, like a good little “reporter,” Hudson was the first to break the news of his own arrest.
Following a long night in the Aiken County Jail, Hudson rushed to email The Jail Report, which is owned and operated by former Chronicle crime reporter, now Mugshot Man, Greg Rickabaugh.
In an obvious attempt to try and clear his name, Hudson requested the opportunity to thoroughly explain his arrest by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to readers of The Jail Report.
Rickabaugh, who is always quick to insist that his $1 collection of mugshots is providing a community service to the CSRA by helping local law enforcement, was happy to oblige Hudson with plenty of space to share his side of the story.
Right after Hudson was given this privilege, the Metro Spirit argued that Rickabaugh’s assertion that he always treats everyone the same went well beyond stretching the truth.
The truth is, The Jail Report would look more like a yearbook each week if Rickabaugh allowed everyone with a mugshot in the paper the same 500-word column to explain the details of their arrests as he did Hudson.
Of course, when Rickabaugh saw The Insider column questioning his actions, he fired back that The Jail Report allows everyone that same courtesy to submit an explanation.
“The claim that we only allowed Scott Hudson to make a defense continues to be disproved by the fact we have run the defense of anyone who asked, including a shoplifter the week after Hudson’s arrest, and before the Spirit came out with their article,” Rickabaugh posted on the Metro Spirit’s Facebook page. “Simply put, The Jail Report makes money like the Metro Spirit and like all other news agencies that report crime, yet for some reason, we are wrong for reporting crime for money.”
So, ladies and gentlemen, you heard the man. If your mugshot is featured in The Jail Report, you can submit your explanation to Rickabaugh and he will, without a shadow of a doubt, publish it as he did Hudson’s column.
You need some help on where to send it?
Let the Metro Spirit assist you.
If you have been arrested and your mugshot has been featured in The Jail Report within the last 12 months or if you find yourself featured sometime within the next 12 months, send your 500-word explanation of the incident to email@example.com.
If you prefer snail mail, please send it to: The Jail Report, P.O. Box 2122, Augusta, GA 30903.
Still having trouble? Feel free to call 706-814-1359 and ask to speak to Publisher Greg Rickabaugh.
The Insider is more than certain that Rickabaugh would happily take your call and want to hear all your thoughts and opinions regarding your mugshot being featured in his “news agency.”
And for those of you whose photos are colored green or manipulated in any way, make sure you thank Rickabaugh for his journalistic ethics and standards.
The way he describes it, you would think he is Clark Kent.
Of course, he wants to paint everyone else like the Green Goblin, so it’s easy to make yourself look good when you smear everyone else.
And, if you don’t hear a response from The Jail Report or your 500-word column is not published, please feel free to give the Metro Spirit a call at 706-496-2558 and we’ll make sure that Rickabaugh gets the message.
But back to the matter at hand: Scott Hudson’s arrest over the Fourth of July weekend for operating a vessel under the influence.
The Insider could easily comment about Hudson’s version of events compared to L. Cpl. Willis A. Bowers’ report with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
No question about it.
Hudson’s version has him sipping a “lemonade drink,” while Bowers’ report states that the former WGAC freelance reporter had an “unopened beer” in his Jet Ski that he planned to drink when he reached the sandbar.
The Insider could point out how Hudson told Bowers that his face wasn’t “flushed” because he was intoxicated, but it was red because he suffered from “extreme psoriasis.”
In fact, The Insider could talk about how Bowers “started smelling a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming off Mr. Hudson’s person” when he approached him and noticed that his eyes were “watery and bloodshot.”
And The Insider could also point out the fact that Hudson apparently asked Bowers
to “please not arrest him” and “wanted to know what he could do to get out of his situation.”
When Bowers did not offer a way out, Hudson allegedly asked the officer if he knew who he was or if he listened to WGAC.
After Bowers said he was not familiar with Hudson or the station, Hudson allegedly “responded in a vulgar fashion” that Bowers “must not listen to the radio or the news” and indicated that he was “uneducated.”
Hudson apparently didn’t stop there.
When Bowers said he was familiar with 95 Rock and remembered Jordan Zeh, Hudson allegedly responded that he “despised that channel.”
But instead of dissecting the DNR report compared to Hudson’s take on his arrest, The Insider decided to let readers judge for themselves.
The following are both Bowers’ report and Hudson’s letter published in the same issue as his mugshot in The Jail Report.
You decide which is fact and which is fiction.
Scott Hudson’s statement to The Jail Report last month:
On Saturday, I was not out partying on the river. I spent the majority of my day working on a client’s website and decided I wanted some pictures of the river at dusk to use for the site. I asked my friend Michael “Griff” Griffin if I could use his jet ski to take those photos. Now, after lunch I had sat and sipped on a couple of beers while designing the site, but I was in no way intoxicated. Indeed, before heading out, I sat in the marina office and talked with both Griff and Marina Manager Mike Stacey. Neither men detected I might be intoxicated and Griff would have never allowed me to take his property out in an inebriated state that could put him at legal risk.
Once out on the river right around 8 pm or so, I took a jet ski out to where I wanted the photos. I was not wearing a life jacket, but there is always one in the well of the ski and my understanding was you simply had to have one with you and not on, per se. On the boat I had no open containers of alcohol and was drinking a lemonade drink with no alcohol in it.
On the jet ski, I was obeying all laws and not racing or jumping wakes when a South Carolina DNR agent approached me and asked why I was not wearing a vest. I told him that I would put one on, but instead he took me onto his boat and began asking me how much I had had to drink. I offered right there to take a breathalyzer test and he refused to give me one. He stated that my face was “flushed” indicating that I was intoxicated. I explained that I suffer from extreme psoriasis and that my face always appears flushed. The agent then advised me that I was under arrest. He then, for several hours took me to different locations, all the while commenting about how he knew me from the radio and the closest he had ever come to arresting a local celebrity was when he arrested a groomsman at either Jordan Zey’s wedding or one which he was in attendance.
It was over two and a half hours before I was finally taken to a law enforcement spot and offered a breathalyzer, which at that point, I declined because the agent had made it clear that I was going to jail regardless. He had commented that so much time had passed that nothing much would register, but that he had found me clearly drunk and acting suspicious and that was enough for an arrest.
I must say that even though it was a dreadful and scary experience, the staff at the Aiken Co. Detention Center were polite and professional. If nothing else, perhaps my arrest will highlight that DNR officials do not seem to operate on the same guidelines as Sheriff’s deputies must. An on the spot breathalyzer would have proven my innocence in the matter, but the agent was determined to make an arrest and even paraded me in front of other DNR agents to display his “catch.”
For those who have been fans of my reporting, I apologize for the appearance of me doing the wrong thing. However, I have outlined the circumstances of this arrest and I hope everyone will allow me to have my day in court to prove that I was not guilty before drawing a conclusion.
The unedited incident report from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources:
On July 5th, 2014, I, L.Cpl. Willis A Bowers with SCDNR was on routine patrol in the Savannah River between Hammond’s Ferry boat Landing and 13th street bridge. I was heading down river at approximately 8:30 PM when I noticed a jet ski in South Carolina waters heading towards me. The operator, later identified as Thomas Hudson, was not wearing a life jacket and was operating near official sunset, so I decided to stop the vessel to perform a safety equipment inspection. I cut on my blue lights as Mr. Hudson drove by and fell in behind him. Mr. Hudson proceeded up river so I blew the air horn on my vessel, being approximately fifty feet behind him. Mr. Hudson continued a little further then turned sharply heading down river passing by me. I blew my air horn again as he turned and fell in behind him, once again. I continued to blow my air horn until Mr. Hudson finally came to a stop in South Carolina waters (33 degree 29’ 11.81”N, 81 degree 59’ 09.00”W).
I pulled alongside Mr. Hudson and asked him where his life jacket was. Mr. Hudson smiled at me and replied in a sleepy fashion that he forgot to put it on because he was taking a quick Jet Ski ride to the “sandbar” up river. I next advised Mr. Hudson that he was operating close to official sunset and needed to dock his jet ski soon. I asked Mr. Hudson to produce a fire extinguisher, registration card, and sound producing device which is required, and he replied that he did not know where anything was. At that time Mr. Hudson started opening compartments on the Jet Ski in an erratic and confused state, not finding any of the items I asked for. When Mr. Hudson opened the front compartment of the Jet Ski he revealed an unopened beer along with a mesh bag containing scuba mask and fins.
I asked Mr. Hudson if that was his beer and he responded that he was going to drink it when he reached the sandbar. I asked Mr. Hudson how much alcohol he consumed that day and he responded three or four around lunch. Based on the strong smell of alcohol coming off Mr. Hudson’s person, his watery and bloodshot eyes, his confused state and sleepy attitude, I asked Mr. Hudson to come aboard my vessel so I could administer a field sobriety test. Mr. Hudson came aboard my vessel, and I placed a life vest on his person. Next I started the field sobriety test. Mr. Hudson performed poorly on all sections of field sobriety test.
I advised Mr. Hudson that he was being placed under arrest for operating a vessel under the influence. I next read him his Miranda warning. Mr. Hudson started asking me to please not arrest him and wanted to know what he could do to get out of his situation. He asked if his friend Michael Griffin could come get him. I responded that he was under arrest and I would get his jet ski back to dock, then we were heading to North Augusta Police Department were he would be given the option to give a breath sample. At that time, approximately 8:55PM, I began to tow the Jet Ski to the location that Mr. Hudson advised it was kept. While in route to the “boat house” landing on the Georgia side of river, I received a call from L.Cpl. Steven Terry who stated that a Michael Griffin was stopped after operating a jet ski after official sunset, and stated that he was on a “search and rescue mission” for Scott Hudson and it was a “dire emergency where danger to life and limb could occur”. L.Cpl. Terry told me they had Mr. Griffin at the River North Boat ramp and to bring the Jet Ski to that location for Mr. Griffin. I towed the Jet Ski to the River North boat ramp where Mr. Griffin took possession.
Mr. Hudson was next transported by me to the North Augusta Police Department at approximately 9:31PM. During the transport Mr. Hudson asked if I knew who he was and if I ever listened to WGAC. I told Mr. Hudson I was not familiar and he would haft to tell me a radio channel. Mr. Hudson told me 95.1 and I responded that I was not familiar. At that time he responded in a vulgar fashion that I must not listen to the radio or the news and indicated that I was uneducated. I responded to Mr. Hudson that I was familiar with 95 rock and remembered Jordan Zey when he was on radio. Mr. Hudson responded that he despised that channel.
We arrived at the NAPD were Mr. Hudson was offered a breath sample. Mr. Hudson refused the test, making a comment during the waiting period that “any alcohol that was in my system is probably filtered out by now so I’m not going to take your test”. At approximately 10:29PM, Mr. Hudson was transported to Aiken County Detention Center where we arrived at approximately 11:17 PM