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‘Bomb threat’ is false alarm

Latasha Everson, The Tifton Gazette, Ga. –

TIFTONA Kentucky man and woman were arrested Thursday afternoon for being under the influence of drugs after allegedly thinking that there was an explosive device on the tractor-trailer they were traveling in.

Lt. Col. Larry Taylor with the Tift County Sheriff’s Office told the Gazette that a truck driver and his companion stopped at the Burger King on Highway 82 West shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday and began searching their vehicle for an explosive device.

After 20 or 30 minutes, they approached the employees at Burger King, Taylor stated. He said the man and woman thought that there was some type of bomb on the truck that exploded while they were at another location causing the tire to blow out, and they thought that there were more explosives on the truck.

Taylor said employees called 911 and the following agencies responded to the scene: TCSO, Tifton-Tift County Fire Department, Georgia State Patrol, Emergency Medical Services and the Motor Carrier Compliance Division of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, which works with commercial vehicles.

“When we arrived on scene, we interviewed the driver and passenger,” Taylor stated. “They stated to us that while they were on the interstate, they had a front tire blow out due to an explosive device that was planted on the truck.”

He noted that the man stated that he was hauling automobile tires.

Taylor said the trailer was determined to be locked and after obtaining the keys, he and other officers — Lt. Rusty Harrison with GSP, Sgt. Fitzgerald Williams with GSP, Trooper James Green with MCCD, Lt. Floyd Cospelich with the TCSO and the Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit — searched the vehicle and trailer.

“We searched the vehicle and examined the tire that had blown out at another location,” he said. “There was no evidence that there had been an explosion or any evidence of an explosive device planted on the vehicle. At that time, we determined the scene safe.”

He said during the examination of the tire, it appeared that the damage was caused by an object that the driver may have run over.

Taylor noted that the Burger King and neighboring businesses were evacuated during the investigation.

“When we got the call, our main objective was to clear the area and make it safe,” he said. “Once we determined that it was safe with no evidence of an explosive device or any detonation, we deemed the area and truck safe.”

He stated that the driver’s trucking company was contacted and they discovered that the dispatcher had been unable to get in contact with the driver for the last two days.

“We conducted more interviews with the driver and passenger of the semi tractor-trailer and determined that they were under the influence of drugs, and they were placed under arrest,” Taylor said.

Mark Andrew Autrey, 44, and Beverly Jo Autrey, 44, both of Bowling Green, Ky., were both charged with public intoxication. Mark Autrey was also issued citations for a log book violation by MCCD.

Taylor stated that the tractor-trailer was towed by a local towing service. He said the company/owner of the tractor-trailer was contacted and advised of the situation.

As of Friday, he said that both offenders are currently housed at the Tift County jail.

“We would like to thank the responders from the fire department, EMS, GSP, MCCD and 911,” Taylor said.

He added that they were able to take a less safe driver off the road.

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