Two firefighters in Robeson County charged with DWI while responding to fire
ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WMBF) – Two firefighters in Robeson County are accused of driving drunk as they were responding to a fire.
Kenneth Caulder Jr. and Melquan Williams were charged with DWI following a crash on Nov. 27 along N.C. 41. Stephanie Chavis, the director of the Robeson County Emergency Management, confirmed that Caulder is with the Orrum Township Volunteer Fire Department and Williams is with the Fairmont Rural Fire Department.
A crash report shows that Caulder crossed the center line on N.C. 41, ran off the road and hit a ditch, causing the vehicle to overturn. Chavis said that the two were headed to a structure fire when the crash happened.
Williams had been driving behind Caulder and the two were in their personal vehicles, according to Chavis.
First Sgt. Lewis the North Carolina Highway Patrol said that the two firefighters had a distinct odor of alcohol on their breaths, which led them to test their blood alcohol content (BAC).
She said at the scene of the crash, Caulder refused a BAC test while Williams had a BAC of .17 at the scene and .14 after arriving at the Magistrates office. In North Carolina, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher.
Orrum Township Fire Chief Steve Britt told WMBF News that Caulder was the assistant fire chief and has since been suspended pending the outcome of his court date on Jan. 20, 2022. The chief stated if the charge gets dropped, then Caulder can wait six months and then return to volunteer at the department. Britt added that Caulder has been a volunteer firefighter since 2018.
Williams is also an assistant fire chief at Fairmont Rural Fire Department, is also a former Maxton police officer. He remains an active member of the fire department.
“According to Chief Rod Heasley with the Fairmont Rural FD, the Board voted to remove Mr. Williams from his position and suspend him until charges have been resolved but the FD Membership overruled the Boards decision and voted to keep Mr. Williams on as an active member,” Chavis explained.
Chavis added that she is working closely with the county attorney and looking into this situation to determine what next steps they may have to take in this investigation.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time the two firefighters have been in trouble.
Back in 2018, Caulder and Williams were arrested and charged with felony arson and conspiracy. They were two of 10 volunteer firefighters accused of setting fires in Robeson County.
The Orrum Township fire chief stated that Caulder’s arson charge was dismissed on Monday after he paid a $1,500 court fine and doing 50 hours of community service.
It’s not clear at this point where Williams’ case stands with the arson charge.
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