0

Vanished hit-and-run suspect was warned not to drive

LILBURN -- A Snellville man suspected of crashing into a police cruiser before he disappeared near a lake Sunday was warned minutes beforehand that he was too drunk to drive.

Around midnight, Javon Depass, 25, was asked to leave the Eastside Station nightclub on Highpoint Road in Snellvile. An off-duty Gwinnett County Sheriff's Deputy working a part-time job at the business spotted Depass and warned him against driving, said department spokesman Lt. Sean Smith.

"Depass told (the deputy) he had a designated driver with him and he would wait at his car for his friend," Smith said.

Instead, police say Depass left the scene in a 1996 Nissan Altima headed west on U.S. 78 where he swerved into a Gwinnett police cruiser headed in the same direction a short time later. The cruiser was knocked into oncoming lanes, but the officer avoided serious injury or another collision.

Depass kept driving for a short distance until he swerved off Lake Lucerne Drive and slammed into a utility pole. He then fled on foot toward Lake Lucerne, where his scent ended for K-9 searchers on his trail. Depass' family told police he could not swim.

Three days of boat searches on the 40-acre lake, in helicopters above it, and by cadaver dogs on the terrain around the water came up empty. No sign of Depass has been found, save the wallet he reportedly dropped as he ran to the water.

A warrant obtained by the Daily Post shows Depass may have had an additional incentive for running: He was on bond in DeKalb County after an arrest on armed robbery charges.

His record in Gwinnett shows only a 2005 arrest for misdemeanor battery. Those charges were later dropped.