Police chief dies in wreck

AIKEN --- New Ellenton's chief of police was killed Wednesday afternoon in a two-vehicle wreck -- the first traffic fatality of the year for Aiken County.


Chief Johnny Hamilton, 55, was pronounced dead at the scene of a collision that occurred at 3:15 p.m. on Walker Street at the intersection of Poole Road in Perry, S.C., just as a rain storm swept through.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating.

According to Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton, Chief Hamilton was traveling north on Poole Road headed to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia on business when he failed to yield the right of way at the intersection with Walker Road. The chief's vehicle was struck by a 1994 Dodge truck driven by Donnie Black, of Springfield, S.C., who was transported to Palmetto Richland Memorial hospital in Columbia, Mr. Carlton stated. A passenger in Chief Hamilton's 2008 Crown Victoria police car, Maria Kenedy, was taken to the same hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Chief Hamilton was not wearing a seat belt, Mr. Carlton stated.

"It's a tragic loss," New Ellenton Mayor Vernon Dunbar said. "We're all going to miss him."

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com.