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Police Blotter

Martinez man drowns off Tybee Island

Posted: September 9, 2012 - 12:03am

Martinez man drowns off Tybee Island

A man who drowned at a Tybee Island, Ga., beach has been identified as a 59-year-old Martinez resident.

Worley Pierson was the first reported drowning victim this year at Tybee Island.

Just before 11 a.m. Tuesday, Tybee police and emergency responders were alerted to a man struggling in the water off the beach between 12th and 13th streets, said Tybee Island Fire and Emergency Services Chief Skip Sasser. That beach is not protected by lifeguards.

Bystanders pulled Pierson from the water and Ocean Rescue performed CPR, Sasser said. He was transported to Memorial University Medical Center where he died.

Tybee Island Police Chief Bob Bryson said an autopsy would be performed within a few days and a toxicology test would also be administered. Results likely would not be available for one to three months.

Pierson had no known medical conditions.

Authorities seek patients of Evans doctor

Richmond County authorities are looking into the past of a doctor charged with prescription fraud to determine how far the pattern of abuse extended and whether patients were involved.

Sheriff’s Investigator Erik Williams said he was seeking past patients of Dr. John G. Rumbaugh, a family practice physician employed with University Health Care System, who was indicted July 10 on 37 felony counts of prescription drug fraud.

The indictments in Richmond and Columbia counties allege that Rumbaugh, a Martinez resident, wrote prescriptions for a fictitious patient to illegally obtain the pain­killers hydrocodone and oxyco­done during a 13-month period starting in April 2011.

Williams said he has had numerous calls from Rumbaugh’s past patients alleging other prescription abuses and has been working to investigate those claims.

He said he’s faced some resistance from Rumbaugh’s co-workers at University Prompt Care in Evans who are unwilling to discuss the case.

Williams said he began to build a case against Rumbaugh in early June after a pharmacist called him about a suspicious pattern of prescriptions being filled at the Rite Aid pharmacy on Walton Way.

The investigation led to more prescriptions filled at a Rite Aid on Furys Ferry Road, about a mile from Rumbaugh’s home in the West Lake neighborhood. Williams estimates that Rumbaugh received more than 1,000 pills for his personal use while still seeing patients on a daily basis.

Not long after, Williams said, he attempted to interview Rumbaugh while he was on duty at University Hospital, but Rumbaugh was incoherent.

Hospital officials informed Williams that the doctor had entered rehab and would not disclose his location, he said.

University Hospital spokes­woman Rebecca Sylvester said Rumbaugh took an extended leave of absence in mid-June. In March, the hospital sent a letter to his patients informing them he would no longer be their physician.

A grand jury arrest warrant was issued July 10 along with the indictments, but Williams said he had no idea where Rumbaugh was until he was arrested Aug. 1 in Cook County, Ga.

According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Rumbaugh was stopped for speeding on Interstate 75 South about 41 miles from the Florida line. Police discovered he was wanted in Richmond and Columbia counties.

Rumbaugh was taken to the Richmond County jail the next day and released Aug. 23 on $5,000 bond on the condition that he return to the Talbott Recovery Campus, an Atlanta addiction treatment center.

Williams is hoping other witnesses will come forward. He also is waiting to hear from the Georgia Composite Medical Board, the state agency that licenses physicians.

The following accounts were taken from reports from The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Harlem man’s ducks killed

A Harlem man told deputies Monday that someone killed five ducks on his property.

The 64-year-old said that about 5 p.m. he walked down to his pond on Matts Lane and saw five dead ducks floating in the water. The birds appeared to have been shot.

The man said he has raised 12 ducks on his property. One duck remains missing.

Three men charged with criminal trespass

Three men were arrested Monday after authorities found them residing on vacant property in Martinez.

The property owner called deputies to her land on the 300 block of Furys Ferry Road where she said she saw a man walking despite several no trespassing signs on the lot.

The 50-year-old woman said she has called the sheriff’s office numerous times in the past year for squatters on her property. She said a vacant, boarded-up residence on the land has been broken into.

When deputies went to investigate, they saw three men walk out from a wooded area. They were identified as Kenneth Charles Erkens, 53; Gregory James Capelle, 36; and Michael Raymond Jones, 44.

Both Capelle and Jones said they’d been staying on the property for only two weeks. Erkens showed deputies his camp and said he’d stayed there for three years after being granted permission.

The woman said no one gave Erkens permission to be on the property and she wanted all three prosecuted.

The men were taken to the Columbia County Detention Center and charged with criminal trespass.

As of Thursday, bond was set at $1,600 for Erkens and Capelle. Jones is being held without bond for a probation violation.

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