Downtown wreck kills minister; dump truck driver charged

A hospital chaplain is dead and a truck driver known for her cheerful demeanor faces vehicular homicide charges after a fatal accident this morning on Jones Street.

 

Family members said Bill Snyder, a North Augusta minister and University Hospital chaplain, had bought his bumblebee-colored moped last year for an easy and affordable ride for daily trips to Augusta.

This morning he was headed to a veterans’ Bible study on his Honda Helix when he was struck and killed by a dump truck.

“That was one of his favorite things to do,� said son Trevor Snyder. “He would go and listen to veteran’s stories and sing Christian hymns with him. A lot of vets just need someone to listen. He loved to do that.�

Mr. Snyder, 67, died instantly about 9:40 a.m. after a Tucker Grading and Hauling truck collided with his moped on Jones Street near the end of Riverwatch Parkway, said Richmond County Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Silas.

The truck driver, Samantha Rivers, 25, of Warrenton, Ga., was driving in the center lane of Jones Street when she tried to make a left turn into a Shell Gas Station. Mr. Snyder and his moped went under the truck’s left rear tire.

Police charged Ms. Rivers with second degree vehicular homicide, improper left turn and driving a commercial vehicle without a license on self, Sgt. Silas said.

Paulette Tucker, co-owner of Tucker Grading and Hauling, said Ms. Rivers is distraught over the fatal crash.

“I don’t imagine she’ll ever be able to drive a truck again,� Ms. Tucker said. “She is just a super safe, good driver.�

Ms. Tucker said Ms. Rivers was hauling rocks and dirt for the St. Sebastian Way project , and had hauled from the trucking company in Wrens to Augusta several times before. Though she had no license with her at the time of the accident, Ms. Tucker said the company had a commercial driver’s license on file for Ms. Rivers that didn’t expire until 2012.

Ms. Tucker said that it was hard to believe that the cheerful driver, who had worked for her almost a year, had caused such an accident.

“It’s just tragic,� she said. “I really feel for the family and their terrible loss.�

Mr. Snyder and his wife, Marian, moved from Plumseteadville, Pa., to North Augusta in 1999 and began worshiping at the North Augusta Bible Chapel. Mr. Snyder became a minister 38 years ago. He served as a University Hospital chaplain for nine years, said hospital spokeswoman Erica Cline.

He left his hometown in eastern Pennsylvania as a teen and went on to serve in the U.S. Navy, graduate from Bible college and serve as a pastor and missionary in Canada and Africa, Mr. Snyder said.

Mr. Snyder said his father’s full, varied and Christian life made it somewhat easier to share the news of his death with his two children.

“I told them he’s OK,� he said. “'He went to see Jesus today, and you’ll see him again someday as well.’�

Mr. Snyder is survived by his wife, four children and 11 grandchildren.

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215

or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

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