Worker in crash remains on job

Logistics officer was not on duty at time
Matthew Burke

 

 

An Aiken County employee involved in a serious wreck while off work faces no penalties unless an arrest is made, officials say.

Daniel Johnson, a logistics officer, remains on the job after a wreck Oct. 1 that left a bicyclist in a coma. He was driving his Dodge Durango and was not working or on call at the time. An investigation by the South Carolina Highway Patrol into the incident on Beech Island Avenue is pending.

Johnson's job has some responsibilities that involve operating county vehicles, but the investigation has no direct bearing on his work status with the county, Todd Glover, the assistant county administrator, said in an e-mail.

Given a similar scenario, the same holds true in Richmond and Columbia counties, human resources officials there said.

"As far as we are concerned, the law says nothing wrong has been done," said Ron Clark, of employee relations in Richmond County.

If an arrest is made, either a felony or certain misdemeanors, employees are obligated to notify their supervisors, according to Clark. An immediate suspension follows, during which the county conducts an investigation to determine employment status.

Marcia Lowry, the human resources manager for Columbia County, said that incidents involving a wreck would be taken on a "case by case" basis but that generally no action would be taken until the outcome of the investigation was made public.

"There are a number of different variables before we could make a final decision," Lowry said.

The wreck in which Johnson was involved happened just before 7 p.m. as a group of bicyclists pedaled on Beech Island Avenue. Dr. Matthew Burke, a surgeon at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, and four other cyclists were injured when Johnson ran into them, according to the highway patrol.

Johnson said he was distracted and didn't see them until the last second, according to investigators.

Johnson was hired by Aiken County in 2003 and has held emergency services-related jobs, including work as an EMT.

A spokesman for the highway patrol said last week that the accident reconstruction team is still piecing together what happened.

Wreck update

Dr. Matthew Burke, a surgeon at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, and four other cyclists were injured when they were struck on Beech Island Avenue on Oct. 1, according to the highway patrol.

A spokesman for the highway patrol says the accident reconstruction team is still investigating.

Burke remains in critical condition at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, according to his family.