Originally created 08/01/98

Additional area news



Arraignment set in fatal car wreck

A driver whose April car crash left one passenger dead and another injured faces arraignment next week on drunken-driving and vehicular homicide charges.

A Richmond County grand jury indicted Deon Romel Edwards, 27, of the 2800 block of Pepperdine Drive, Hephzibah, on charges of homicide by vehicle in the first degree, felony hit and run, driving under the influence, driving without proof of insurance, driving on a suspended license and driving too fast for conditions.

The indictment issued Thursday concerns an April 12 car crash on Crest Drive in Hephzibah, which led to the death of 26-year-old Ray Alexander Collier of Opa Locka, Fla.

According to the accident report, Mr. Edwards was driving a 1995 Chevrolet Impala east on Crest Drive at about 3:15 a.m. when he lost control of the car, hit a light pole, pine trees and a parked vehicle and flipped his car onto its roof.

Mr. Edwards and a passenger got out of the car and left, going to Mr. Edwards' nearby home, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Department report. Mr. Collier and Corey Edwards were trapped in the vehicle.

Mr. Collier was pronounced dead at the scene, and Corey Edwards, 32, was taken to the hospital.

Deon Romel Edwards could be arraigned Aug. 7 in Richmond County Superior Court.

Accident kills elderly man

An elderly Aiken man died Friday of injuries resulting from an accident on Silver Bluff Road.

Audry Johnson, 87, of the 500 block of Valleydale Lane, was killed at about 11:35 a.m. when the pickup truck he was driving ran into a 1991 Buick driven by Janice Ann Auernheimer, 70, at the intersection of Silver Bluff Road and Hidden Haven Drive.

Both drivers were taken to Aiken Regional Medical Centers. Mr. Johnson was pronounced dead at 12:25 p.m. Ms. Auernheimer, of the 500 block of Deneb Drive, Aiken, was treated and released.

An autopsy has been scheduled for Monday, but police do not suspect alcohol was involved, said Bo Rearden of the Aiken County Coroner's Office.

The accident is still under investigation.

Environmental festival planned

An Environmental Unity Festival will be from 2 to 6 p.m. today at Clara Jenkins Elementary School playground on Dan Bowles Road. The event, sponsored by the Hyde Park and Aragon Park Improvement Committee, will include speakers on topics such as a clean environment and the future of Hyde Park.

There will also be baseball for children, volleyball games and a cookout featuring hot dogs and hamburgers. The festival is open to the public.

Base to provide more jobs

ALBANY -- At least 100 jobs are expected to come to southwest Georgia in the next two to three years as the U.S. Marine Corps consolidates its logistics and systems commands at the Albany Marine Corps Logistics Base.

Navy Secretary John Dalton announced this week that Albany will be the headquarters for the new Materiel Command, which will combine the Corps' Systems Command, now headquartered at Quantico, Va., and the Logistics Command, already in Albany.

The Albany base now employs about 3,400 civilians and Marines. This move will add about 100 jobs, said Maj. Gen. Gary S. McKissock, commander of the Corps' logistics bases in Albany and Barstow, Calif., and its Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, Fla.

The consolidation is expected to be completed by Oct. 1, 1999.

The decision means the Albany base probably won't be at risk of being closed for a long time, said Jim Vaught, vice president of operations and military affairs for the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

Criticized board chief retires

ATLANTA -- The president of the Atlanta school board retired from his job at Georgia Tech on Friday after blunt criticism from Gov. Zell Miller over an audit questioning expense reports.

In a terse statement, Georgia Tech officials said Norman Johnson's retirement is effective immediately and that the school "will ensure appropriate remuneration for the costs questioned" in a state auditor's report.

Mr. Johnson earned $130,000 a year at Georgia Tech for recruiting minority students and raising funds for the Georgia Tech Foundation.

Neither he nor Tech officials returned phone calls.

Earlier Friday, Mr. Miller sharply criticized Mr. Johnson for the expense-account discrepancies.

"The auditor's report and findings show actions that are inexcusable," Mr. Miller said Friday. Tech spokesman Bob Harty had said Thursday that Georgia Tech officials would give Mr. Johnson an unspecified "reasonable amount of time" to produce documents justifying his frequent exchange of airline tickets purchased by the school.

The exchanges were outlined in a state audit of Mr. Johnson's travel and entertainment expenses incurred on behalf of Tech, the school system, and the Tech Foundation.

State investigators found several instances of Mr. Johnson's airline tickets being changed multiple times and not used for the trips for which the organizations paid.

Mr. Johnson told top Tech officials in a private meeting Wednesday that he has such records, Mr. Harty said.

The audit released Wednesday indicates Tech reimbursed Mr. Johnson for meals on the same dates the Atlanta school system was paying his daily expenses for conferences he attended on behalf of the school district.

Children exposed to rabid cat

COLUMBIA -- Two Spartanburg County children are under a doctor's care after being exposed to a rabid cat in the Campobello area.

The cat was captured Wednesday, the Department of Health and Environmental Control said.

"We are urging residents not to try to feed, pet or rescue a wild or stray animal," DHEC's Patricia Wright said Friday. "Pet owners should not let their animals run loose and should check their vaccination records to make sure their inoculations are current."

Rabies, fatal when the virus reaches the brain, is contracted by being bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal.

About 400 South Carolinians each year undergo preventive treatment, Ms. Wright said.

Last year, DHEC confirmed 189 cases statewide.

The Campobello incident is Spartanburg County's second positive rabies case this year.

Brothers drown in motel pool

ORANGEBURG -- Two brothers apparently drowned in an Orangeburg motel pool.

Larry Johnson, 20, slipped underwater Thursday, and his 16-year-old brother, Michael, jumped in to help him.

Michael was pronounced dead around midnight, and his older brother died early Friday, Orangeburg County Coroner Samuetta Marshall said.

Autopsies were planned, and the accident is under investigation.