Originally created 08/05/98

Man charged in infant's traffic death



AIKEN -- The godfather of a 4-month-old boy who was killed in a traffic accident Saturday has been charged with child endangerment and two counts of driving under the influence.

Brian Thomas Hicks was booked into Aiken County Detention Center on Monday after being treated during the weekend at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.

On Saturday, Mr. Hicks' godson, Diamond Williams, became a traffic statistic, killed as a result of body trauma after being flung from a 1990 Jeep Cherokee as it crashed into a tree.

Highway patrol investigators said there was a child safety seat in the vehicle but Diamond wasn't belted in the seat.

The infant became a flying projectile, said Cpl. Thomas Collins, spokesman for the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

An autopsy performed Monday in Newberry confirmed the cause of death as injuries received in the crash, said Bo Rearden of the Aiken County Coroner's Office.

In addition to child endangerment and the two DUI charges, Mr. Hicks faces charges of driving under suspension (second offense) and violation of the child restraint law, Cpl. Collins said.

About 6:55 p.m. on Saturday, Mr. Hicks was driving the Jeep along South Carolina Highway 389 when it ran off the shoulder and slammed into a tree, about five miles north of Wagener.

Cpl. Collins said the second DUI count pending against Mr. Hicks is in connection with the injuries suffered by Mr. Hicks' wife, Teresa, who was listed in fair condition Tuesday.

Nationwide, more than 265,000 children are injured in motor vehicle accidents each year. According to data from the National Safe Kids Campaign, child safety seats, if properly secured, reduce the death rate by 71 percent, hospital treatment by 67 percent and most injuries by 50 percent.

"This is something we take very seriously," Cpl. Collins said. Anyone with questions about the proper use of safety seats or who would like a quick inspection of the equipment in use can contact any highway patrol office, he said.

Some older cars might not have the most up-to-date, pre-installed seat belt equipment that includes a special child seat buckle to ensure proper fit of child safety seats, Cpl. Collins said.

However, troopers can explain what is needed, and car manufacturers can be contacted to get the right equipment added, he said.

"We recommend to parents that they take the time to read the instruction manual that comes with the seat," he added.

The total annual cost of traffic-related deaths and injury for children ages 14 and under is more than $33 billion, and for children ages 4 and under the cost is more than $8.5 billion. Each child safety seat saves $85 in direct medical costs and another $1,275 in related costs, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign.

BYLINE1:By Kathy Steele

BYLINE2:South Carolina Bureau

AIKEN -- The godfather of a 4-month-old boy who was killed in a traffic accident Saturday has been charged with child endangerment and two counts of driving under the influence.

Brian Thomas Hicks was booked into Aiken County Detention Center on Monday after being treated during the weekend at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.

On Saturday, Mr. Hicks' godson, Diamond Williams, became a traffic statistic, killed as a result of body trauma after being flung from a 1990 Jeep Cherokee as it crashed into a tree.

Highway patrol investigators said there was a child safety seat in the vehicle but Diamond wasn't belted in the seat.

The infant became a flying projectile, said Cpl. Thomas Collins, spokesman for the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

An autopsy performed Monday in Newberry confirmed the cause of death as injuries received in the crash, said Bo Rearden of the Aiken County Coroner's Office.

In addition to child endangerment and the two DUI charges, Mr. Hicks faces charges of driving under suspension (second offense) and violation of the child restraint law, Cpl. Collins said.

About 6:55 p.m. on Saturday, Mr. Hicks was driving the Jeep along South Carolina Highway 389 when it ran off the shoulder and slammed into a tree, about five miles north of Wagener.

Cpl. Collins said the second DUI count pending against Mr. Hicks is in connection with the injuries suffered by Mr. Hicks' wife, Teresa, who was listed in fair condition Tuesday.

Nationwide, more than 265,000 children are injured in motor vehicle accidents each year. According to data from the National Safe Kids Campaign, child safety seats, if properly secured, reduce the death rate by 71 percent, hospital treatment by 67 percent and most injuries by 50 percent.

"This is something we take very seriously," Cpl. Collins said. Anyone with questions about the proper use of safety seats or who would like a quick inspection of the equipment in use can contact any highway patrol office, he said.

Some older cars might not have the most up-to-date, pre-installed seat belt equipment that includes a special child seat buckle to ensure proper fit of child safety seats, Cpl. Collins said.

However, troopers can explain what is needed, and car manufacturers can be contacted to get the right equipment added, he said.

"We recommend to parents that they take the time to read the instruction manual that comes with the seat," he added.

The total annual cost of traffic-related deaths and injury for children ages 14 and under is more than $33 billion, and for children ages 4 and under the cost is more than $8.5 billion. Each child safety seat saves $85 in direct medical costs and another $1,275 in related costs, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign.

Prevention tipsSafety tips from the National Safe Kids Campaign:Always use child safety seats and belts correctly each time.Restrain children age 12 and under in the back seat.Infants, until at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds, should be in rear-facing child safety seats. Never put a rear-facing infant or convertible safety seat in the front passenger seat of a vehicle that has a passenger air bag.Call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Auto Safety Hot Line, (800) 424-9393 to ask about any recalls or safety notices on child safety seats.