Originally created 11/29/97

Additional area news



Man dies as auto plunges into canal

Richmond County authorities have yet to determine the cause an accident early Friday morning that ended the life of a Belvedere man.

Jeffery Berry, 22, of Belair Court was traveling east on Interstate 20 about 2:22 a.m. when his 1996 Jeep Cherokee swerved off the road and plunged into the Augusta Canal, said Deputy Mike Logue of the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

"It jumped the guardrail, flipped onto its roof, hit the water and sunk," Deputy Logue said.

It took authorities about five hours -- with help from the Augusta Richmond Dive Team -- to locate and retrieve the sunken vehicle, which was recovered around 7 a.m. Friday, Deputy Logue said.

The cause of accident is still unknown, but a toxicology test will be performed to determine if drugs or alcohol played a part in his death, Deputy Logue said.

Bus beefs up schedule for holiday

As holiday shopping gets under way, Aiken County's Best Friend Express will offer a special holiday bus schedule for older adults on four consecutive Saturdays.

Additional stops will also be added.

At 7:27 a.m. today, the North Augusta/Valley bus will depart from North Augusta Plaza and travel its standard route to the Aiken Area Council on Aging on Morgan Street. The last run back to North Augusta will leave the Council on Aging at 5:57 p.m.

The Aiken-based bus will begin at 7:03 a.m. from the Council on Aging and end the day leaving Aiken Mall at 4:50 p.m.

On Dec. 6, 13 and 20 the same schedules will be offered.

The New Ellenton Connection bus service will also run Saturdays during the holidays and additional stops have been added, said George Alexander, the interim director of the Council on Aging.

The areas affected by the service addition are Dunbarton Oaks, Colony Apartments, Virginia Acres, Fairway Ridge Apartments and Cumberland Village. The roundtrip fare to either the Aiken Mall or downtown Aiken is $1 for older adults.

For additional information, call the Council on Aging at (803) 648-6493 or 648-5447.

Theft of breathalyzer charged

LEESBURG -- A Leesburg policeman has been charged with stealing a breathalyzer and selling it to another officer.

Leesburg patrolman Timothy Pierce turned himself in Thursday after his name was found etched on the Alco-Sensor III breathalyzer in place of the serial number, which had been scratched off, investigators said.

Mr. Pierce, 27, apparently stole the handheld breath-alcohol tester from the Lee County jail, where it was used for booking prisoners on intoxication charges, said sheriff's Lt. Jeff Smith.

Investigators said the theft occurred when Mr. Pierce was working for the Albany Police Department.

He was just recently hired in Leesburg, 10 miles north of Albany.

About two months ago, he sold the $490 breathalyzer to another Albany officer for $65, said sheriff's Lt. Col. Rickey Johnson.

Teen accused of firing at police

SPARTANBURG -- A 15-year-old boy has been arrested after a shooting incident involving Spartanburg County narcotics agents.

The boy was arrested Wednesday night after several shots were fired at officers, sheriff's spokesman Eric Lawson said.

The deputies were not hurt. The boy was grazed in the thigh when a deputy returned fire.

The boy, whose name was not released because of his age, was treated at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center and turned over to the Juvenile Justice Department.

The boy has been charged with assault and battery with intent to kill, illegal possession of a pistol and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, Mr. Lawson said.

Volunteers earn money for state

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina earned an extra $260,000 on its investments because some state workers came to their offices on what otherwise would be a day off after Thanksgiving, Treasurer Richard Eckstrom says.

A Friday morning bond market rally and a trade of $10 million in U.S. Treasury Bonds gave the state the extra $260,000, Mr. Eckstrom said.

It was the third consecutive year volunteers from Mr. Eckstrom's office have worked on state holidays when banks are open.

Volunteers from Mr. Eckstrom's office also staffed a desk at Haywood Mall in Greenville on Friday to help find people who are owed money by the state.

A similar program at the State Fair in Columbia in October returned about $200,000 in unclaimed funds.

Plane-crash site cleanup begins

FLORENCE -- Federal investigators Friday scoured the scene of a Florence County plane crash that killed four members of a Florida family the day before Thanksgiving.

They worked to clear a path through dense woods to the crash site so they could move the wreckage to nearby Florence Regional Airport for examination.

The Delray Beach, Fla., family was headed to Elkton, Md., for the holidays when the pilot, Mark David Ewart, reported engine trouble Wednesday afternoon.

His home-built experimental plane went down about a mile north of the Florence airport.

Also killed were Mr. Ewart's wife, Nancy, and daughters Michelle, 16, and Cathern, 14.

Engineer barred for mistakes

COLUMBIA -- A North Carolina engineer has been barred from practicing in South Carolina, where regulators say he approved fire sprinklers that failed to meet standards, including some in a Spartanburg group home.

Cheatum Milo Grove of Fletcher, N.C., had his operating certificate permanently revoked by the Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. The panel's October decision was not released until this week.

Mr. Grove was accused of violations involving eight systems, including one for the Charles Lea Center group home for rehabilitation and special education in Spartanburg.

State regulators said Mr. Grove certified the sprinkler system in the home met proper standards when it did not. He also was cited for submitting fire protection design plans for the center that he had neither done himself nor directly supervised.