Originally created 07/11/98

Additional area news



Motorcyclist hurt after police chase

An Augusta man attempting to elude police Friday evening was injured when the motorcycle he was driving collided with a Richmond County Sheriff's Department cruiser, authorities said.

Randall Morgan, 20, of Augusta, fled from a deputy who was attempting to pull him over for speeding on Wrightsboro Road, said sheriff's Investigator Stan Ashmore.

Mr. Morgan, who was traveling east on Wrightsboro Road about 5 p.m., sped away from the deputy and turned down North Leg and left onto Gordon Highway, running several red lights, Investigator Ashmore said. The motorcyclist turned left onto Barton Chapel Road, running another red light, then back right and crashed into the cruiser, authorities said.

Mr. Morgan was treated for minor injuries at University Hospital and released.

He has been charged with driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, fleeing and attempting to elude officers, reckless driving and driving with a suspended license.

Police could not determine if the 1996 Yamaha motorcycle Mr. Morgan was driving was stolen because the owner was out of town and unable to be reached.

Homicide charge planned after crash

A south Augusta man who police said was responsible for a Tuesday accident that killed another Augusta man will be charged with vehicular homicide, officials said.

Police obtained a warrant Friday for Wilson Holmes, 54, of Weldon Drive, who is still hospitalized.

Mr. Holmes was driving his 1988 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck north on Mike Padgett Highway around 4 p.m. Tuesday when he swerved over the center line and into oncoming traffic, police said.

His truck collided head on with a 1987 Isuzu pickup driven by Hillard Burgess, 63, of Bridgeport Drive.

Mr. Burgess was pronounced dead on arrival at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital on Tuesday. Mr. Holmes was in serious condition Friday afternoon, said an MCG hospital spokeswoman.

Gas seller loses name appeal

ATLANTA -- The Public Service Commission has denied an appeal by Atlanta Gas Light Services Inc. to keep its name.

The commission upheld Friday a June 23 decision by a PSC hearing officer that said the marketing affiliate's name was too similar to Atlanta Gas Light Co.

When the state deregulates its natural gas industry Nov. 1, marketing companies will compete for the 1.4 million customers now all served by Atlanta Gas Light Co.

Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald said Friday that Atlanta Gas Light Services would gain an unfair advantage if customers confuse the name with that of the 140-year-old gas supplier.

Garner to stay as prisons chief

WAYCROSS -- The state Board of Corrections reconfirmed Wayne Garner as commissioner of the Department of Corrections on Friday and praised him for improving the prison system while reducing its budget.

Mr. Garner, appointed by Gov. Zell Miller in December 1995, has attracted sharp criticism for crackdowns at state prisons.

In April, the state agreed to pay more than $280,000 to end a lawsuit accusing prison officials of beating inmates during shakedowns led by Mr. Garner in 1996.

In a statement on behalf of the corrections board, chairman Gene Hodge said Mr. Garner's leadership and vision "have transformed Georgia's ailing prison system into not only one of the nation's best-run prison systems but into one which has been recognized as a model the world over."

Children's killer loses appeal

ATLANTA -- A Butts County Superior Court judge denied an appeal Friday by convicted killer Wayne Williams, said Attorney General Thurbert Baker.

Judge Hal Craig, in a 60-page order, denied relief in the habeas corpus petition from Mr. Williams, who wants a new trial.

Mr. Williams was convicted in 1982 of two murders that authorities linked to Atlanta's missing and murdered children investigation. Mr. Williams was never tried for any of the child killings, but police said they considered most of the slayings solved.

"Although this does not end the appeal process, I am pleased with the results in the habeas case," Mr. Baker said. "My office will continue to do everything possible to uphold the conviction."

Crash causes fuel explosion

MACON -- A tanker truck hit a gas pump, causing an explosion that sent flames 150 feet into the air, fire officials said.

Officials said no one was seriously injured in the explosion, which happened around 2 p.m. Friday. More than 500 people were evacuated from businesses and restaurants in the area.

The accident happened at the E-Z Serve service station on Pio Nono Avenue, one of Macon's busiest roads.

Angie Reid was across the street from the station when it happened.

"All I saw was a ball of fire, and then we took off," she said.

The road remained closed late Friday evening as crews worked to return cable and power to the area.

Instructor accused of cruelty

CLAYTON -- An instructor at a military-style summer boys camp has been arrested on a charge of using soap to wash out the mouth of a camper.

The incident is the latest of several complaints about the hard discipline used at Bunker Hill Military School and Summer Camp since it opened on Lake Burton three years ago, Rabun County Sheriff Don Page said Thursday.

The sheriff said Phillip Lanier, 28, of Clarkesville was charged this week with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to children.

The Department of Family and Children Services also is investigating.

A camp spokeswoman said Mr. Lanier was temporarily reassigned to the camp's maintenance crew until the case is resolved.

There are now 85 boys, ages 7 to 16, at the camp, which formerly was operated as Camp Cherokee, the spokeswoman said.

The sheriff said his office has investigated prior allegations of children being kicked and boys being forced to swim naked in cold water as punishment.

Air crash kills doctor, 3 others

HOUSTON -- A South Carolina doctor and three friends were killed in a fiery plane crash after the pilot reported low engine pressure and crashed as he tried to return to a Belize airport.

The plane piloted by Houston real estate developer William Fincher, 50, crashed into a dense grove of trees Wednesday evening as he tried to make an emergency landing at Belize City's international airport.

Also killed were Dr. William S. Davis, 39, of Myrtle Beach, and Houston pharmacists Lee Ann Daruszka, 41, and Pamela Wrobleski, 37. Fire gutted the wreckage.

The plane took off for the resort of San Pedro at 6:34 p.m., but Mr. Fincher reported the oil problem six minutes later. He appeared to spin out of control on final approach and missed the runway by almost 10,000 feet, said Efrain Gomez, director of Belize's Civil Aviation Department.

Greenville judge gets nomination

COLUMBIA -- U.S. District Judge William Traxler of Greenville has been nominated by President Clinton to serve on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Traxler, 50, will fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge Donald Russell of Spartanburg in February. Judge Traxler's nomination to the court in Richmond, Va., was announced by the White House on Friday.

U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings said he expected quick confirmation by the Senate because the nomination also has the backing of Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C.