Across the area

Aiken deputy accused of hitting teen is fired


An Aiken County sheriff's deputy was fired Tuesday, accused of striking an Aiken teenager in the throat after questioning him.

Jeffrey S. Nation, 40, of Cottonwood Drive, was fired after appearing before a Magistrate Court judge, said Lt. Michael Frank of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

In a news release, Lt. Frank said Mr. Nation demanded that Lorenzo Williams Jr., 18, of New Ellenton, "pull up his pants" while the two were at the corner of Green and Jackson streets Sunday. Mr. Nation alleged that Mr. Williams attempted to "head-butt" him. An investigation determined the former deputy's accusation was untrue.

Sheriff Michael Hunt apologized to Mr. Williams, to his family and to "our community, because this kind of behavior is unacceptable by any law enforcement officer," he said. Mr. Nation worked for the Aiken County Sheriff's Office three times -- March 2001-July 2002, January 2004-March 2006, and January to September this year.

Aiken voters say no to nonpartisan elections

A referendum to scrap the city of Aiken's two-party election system in favor of nonpartisan elections failed Tuesday, with only 8 percent of the 18,000 registered voters casting ballots.

Stuart Bedenbaugh, the director of voter registration and elections in Aiken County, said the referendum lost in every precinct but one, with 422 voting in favor of nonpartisan elections and 1,015 voting in opposition.

School board OKs new graduation location

The Aiken County School Board approved a recommendation Tuesday to have Aiken County seniors hold their graduation at the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center.

The June ceremonies will allow the five largest high schools -- Aiken, South Aiken, North Augusta, Silver Bluff and Midland Valley -- to use larger facilities to accommodate all family members. Previously, the schools held graduation in their gyms or auditoriums. Parents at Ridge Spring-Monetta and Wagener-Salley high schools are being re-polled about using the facilities. Those schools will announce their graduation location later this month.

Wrecks in Thomson leave two men dead

A 57-year-old Thomson man was killed in a two-vehicle wreck Tuesday on a rain-soaked highway in McDuffie County, the second fatal crash there in two days.

The wreck occurred shortly after 5 p.m. on Georgia Highway 278 just outside Thomson. Authorities said a Dodge Dakota pickup apparently hydroplaned and crossed the center line into the path of a GMC Yukon.

The driver of the Yukon, Terrie Gribanow, attempted to avoid the accident by swerving off the road, but the vehicles collided on the shoulder, according to Georgia State Patrol Trooper 1st Class Mike Callaway. Mrs. Gribanow was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital and was listed in fair condition.

McDuffie County Coroner Rhusha Mack identified the man who died at the scene as Danny Wilson, of the 3100 block of Quail Farm Road. Authorities said he was ejected from the Dodge. Another person in the pickup was Mr. Wilson's son, Rocky Wilson, who was listed in good condition Tuesday night at MCG. Authorities were unsure who was driving the truck.

Also on Tuesday, 25-year-old Nicholas Wiley, of Ridge Road, Thomson, died from injuries suffered when the Jeep he was driving flipped on Ridge Road on Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Derailed train cars cause traffic detour

Five empty Norfolk Southern train cars derailed Tuesday morning at Doug Barnard Parkway and International Boulevard -- blocking traffic throughout the day.

Officials are still trying to determine what caused the accident, Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Richard Weaver said.

Police search for man who robbed Circle K

Columbia County authorities are looking for a man who robbed a Martinez convenience store early Tuesday.

The man entered the Circle K store at the intersection of Belair and Columbia roads about 3:30 a.m., pulled a handgun and demanded money, said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris. The man left the store with a small amount of cash and two cartons of cigarettes.

Witnesses describe him as a light-skinned black man dressed in blue pants, shirt, hat and shoes. A witness said a white Chevrolet S-10 pickup with a camper shell was in the area at the time. Anyone with information should call (706) 541-2800.

Drug company temp sought in theft of pills

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office has warrants for the arrest of an Aiken man in the theft of weight-loss capsules worth $500,000, the department said in a news release Tuesday.

Jeremy A. Jones, 29, of the 400 block of Shiloh Heights Road, Aiken, will be charged with 16 counts of grand larceny, the release states. Mr. Jones was employed as a temporary worker with Glaxo Smith Kline in Aiken from July to December of last year. The sheriff's office said he removed 16 plastic bags, each weighing an estimated 45 pounds, from the company warehouse.

Anyone with information can call Investigator Charles Cain at the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, (800) 922-9709, or Crimestoppers of the Midlands at (888) 274-6372.

Man uses note to rob bank in Clearwater

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating a Tuesday bank robbery at Regions Bank in Clearwater.

According to a news release, a man walked into the bank on Jefferson Davis Highway about 12:33 p.m. and asked a teller for a deposit slip, on which he wrote a note demanding money.

The man, who never displayed a gun, walked out of the bank with an unknown amount of money.

The robber, who was wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap, was seen walking to a white Toyota van driven by a woman, the release states. The vehicle had a Georgia license plate. Anyone with information can call (800) 922-9709.

Dad accused of beating teen with broom stick

A father was arrested Monday, police said, after his 15-year-old daughter was beaten with a broom stick.

Alton Durham Jr., 41, of the 1500 block of Wylds Road, is charged with first-degree cruelty to children, according to Richmond County jail records. According to a sheriff's office report, Mr. Durham and his daughter argued over her cell phone use, and the argument turned physical.

The teen was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where she was treated for an inch-long cut on her forehead, sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said Tuesday.

Trailer is set on fire while family is inside

Someone tried to set fire to an Augusta man's trailer while he, his wife and two children were inside early Tuesday.

According to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report, the incident occurred in the 4000 block of Daisy Lane when the victim's wife saw flames and smoke coming from the rear of the trailer.

The fire was extinguished before arson investigators arrived, the report states.

Man injured in watercraft accident

A man was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital Tuesday night following an accident involving two personal watercraft in North Augusta, authorities said.

The incident occurred about 7:45 p.m. at Campbellton Boat Landing off Hammonds Ferry Drive.

The injured man's name wasn't readily available. The accident is being investigated by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and North Augusta Department of Public Safety. No other details were available late Tuesday.

Sept. 11 event will be at Augusta Common

A Sept. 11 Remembrance Ceremony will be held on Augusta Common at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, according to a statement from the mayor's office. Families and volunteers from the area will be acknowledged, and there will be a tolling of bells at the time the World Trade Center Towers fell. For more information, call Deputy Chief Carl Scott at (706) 821-1642.

-- From staff reports