Judge sets low bond for fatal DUI crash suspect over jail wheelchair access

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – At the J. Reuben Long Detention Center, there are hundreds of inmates on any given day, including inmates with limited mobility.

“We’ve had people who are in a wheelchair simply for maybe a broken leg and can’t put any weight on it. We’ve had others who are paraplegics where they did have limited mobility,” said Captain Susan Safford with support services at J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

News13 began asking questions about the jail’s accessibility after a Myrtle Beach judge set a $20,000 bond for a woman in a wheelchair.

Deborah Bullock was charged with felony DUI after a deadly crash that killed a 64-year-old woman and hurt two others on Mr. Joe White Avenue on April 5.  According to the incident reports, Bullock told an officer she was huffing dust cleaner from a can a few hours before the crash.

Judge Clifford Welsh said in the bond hearing, the jail wasn’t conducive to wheelchairs.

Deborah Bullock, J Reuben Long Detention Center

“Ordinarily, I wouldn’t consider some of what I’m considering now. But she obviously is not a real great candidate for a multi-storied local lock up. They’re not exactly wheelchair friendly,” said Judge Welsh.

The judge went on to say the bond amount was lower than what he would ordinarily set.

“I’m going to make this probably a lot lower than I should but just because of the nature of the charges I ordinarily would set. But you do have a retained counsel and like I say, J. Reuben Long Detention Center isn’t exactly conducive to being in a wheelchair,” said Judge Welsh during Bullock’s bond hearing.

Captain Safford said the jail doesn’t have a problem with accessibility.

“We have housing units here that have cells inside that have handicapped-accessible toilets and all the requirements we’d have to have for that accommodation to be made,” confirms Captain Safford. “A lot of cells that are on a first floor don’t require movement up to a next level. We also do have elevators in our tower.”

Inmates with certain medical conditions could be transferred if jail staff were not able to care for them.

“But that is a very rare situation that we’ve run into that it wasn’t something we could handle here at the facility,” said Captain Safford.

News13 reached out to the clerk’s office for comment from Judge Welsh regarding the lower bond and the misinformation that J. Reuben staff could not meet the accommodations of the suspect. That phone call has not been returned.

According to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center booking records, Bullock was released from jail April 7, two days after killing a woman in a car crash due to allegedly being intoxicated while driving. Bullock is charged with felony DUI resulting in death and driving under a suspended license. Bullock was released on a $20,539 bond and is currently on home detention.

Court records on the Horry County Index show that just nine days prior to reportedly causing a fatal car crash, Bullock was arrested March 27 by Myrtle Beach Police for driving under a suspended license. Bullock was released on that charge on a personal recognizance bond of $539.

Bullock is due back in court for the first driving under a suspended license charge April 19, and will return to court May 22 on the DUI resulting in death and second driving under a suspended license charge.