WALHALLA, S.C. (AP) — An Arkansas man has been arrested for trying to crash through the exit gates of a South Carolina nuclear plant, authorities said.
Doyle Wayne Whisenhunt, of Lockesburg, Arkansas, was taken into custody Friday night at an abandoned home in Pickens County, South Carolina, and transferred to the Oconee County sheriff’s office, the sheriff’s office announced in a news release.
Whisenhunt, 66, has been charged with one count each of attempted murder, malicious injury to personal property, and unlawful entry into an enclosed place relating to the Thursday night incident at the Oconee Nuclear Station.
An arrest warrant says Whisenhunt accelerated his vehicle toward a Duke Energy security officer while on the grounds of the nuclear station in an attempt to cause harm or death.
Authorities also say Whisenhunt caused damage to the gates and fencing outside the secured area of the facility by hitting them with his vehicle. Whisenhunt also trespassed onto the property of the nuclear station without authorization, according to the charges.
The sheriff’s office said Whisenhunt was also charged in a separate incident with one count of hit and run after he was involved in a crash with another vehicle and failed to remain on the scene.
It was unclear whether Whisenhunt had legal representation. Emails and text messages left for the suspect and a relative were not returned.
The incident at the nuclear plant near Seneca, South Carolina, happened about an hour after security asked the same car to leave when it tried to enter, authorities said. A pop-up security barrier stopped the car with an Arkansas license plate at the facility around 8 p.m. Thursday.
The driver backed up and tried to drive down a dirt road as security tried to block them in. The driver tried to hit the guards, then drove through a fence and off the nuclear plant property, according to authorities. None of the security staff was injured, Duke Energy said.
The Oconee Nuclear Station has three nuclear reactors and started generating power 50 years ago on Lake Keowee.