Originally created 02/07/98

Solicitor may file charges



AIKEN -- Highway patrol investigators will meet with Solicitor Barbara Morgan early next week to discuss whether criminal charges should be filed against the driver of a tractor-trailer involved in a fatal collision Wednesday on U.S. Highway 1.

Troopers have completed a preliminary investigation, said Capt. Ralph Mobley of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

But a decision on charges still could take some time, Ms. Morgan said Friday.

Final laboratory results and details of other investigations often take days or weeks, Ms. Morgan said.

Investigators also typically allow survivors involved in fatal accidents a period of mourning before conducting thorough interviews, she said.

"I'm confident they're moving accordingly," Ms. Morgan said.

Highway patrol officials said they won't comment on their findings until the final investigation is complete and Ms. Morgan releases her decision.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, Joseph Jones, 44, of Atlanta, said Wednesday he couldn't stop for a traffic signal at U.S. Highway 1 and Sudlow Lake Road because the truck's brakes failed.

The truck jackknifed on top of the minivan in the intersection, killing minivan passenger Donald Beckman, 68, of Aiken.

His wife, Jean Beckman, 64, who was driving the minivan, was trapped inside the vehicle for about two hours before being taken to Medical College of Georgia. She was released from the hospital Friday.

Mr. Jones wasn't seriously injured.

Though it was raining at the time of the collision, troopers said Wednesday they doubt the weather was a factor.