Originally created 08/30/98

Additional area news



Three-car wreck kills woman, teen

A woman and a teen-age girl were killed and six people injured in a three-car accident on Deans Bridge Road on Saturday afternoon, police said.

Ernestine Willingham, 39, of Louisville, Ga., and Lateshia Nelson, 15, also of Louisville, were killed at about 1:23 p.m. when Ms. Willingham lost control of her car and struck a car driven by Vickie Hentges, 44, of Hephzibah, according to police reports. Ms. Nelson was a passenger in the car driven by Ms. Willingham.

Witnesses reported that Ms. Willingham was traveling northbound on Deans Bridge Road when her car spun around and crossed the center line into oncoming traffic, police reports stated. She then struck Ms. Hentges car and the two cars then hit a third car, driven by Rachel Coleman, 59, of Tifton, Ga.

Ms. Hentges was critically injured in the accident. Another passenger in Ms. Willingham's car was injured, and Ms. Coleman and three passengers in her car also received injuries, according to police reports.

Harlem man faces pot charge

A Harlem man was arrested in Louisiana on Thursday after police reportedly found 78 pounds of marijuana in his car.

Harold Whitaker, 38, was stopped for speeding on Interstate 10. He was charged with possession of more than 60 pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

"As soon as they walked up to the car they smelled the overwhelming odor of fabric softener. That's just as good as marijuana," said Iberville Parish Sheriff's Lt. Stephen Engolio.

Marijuana smugglers often use fabric softener to mask the drug's odor, he said.

During a search of the car, deputies found 40 pounds of marijuana in an ice chest on the back seat, and in the trunk they found 38 pounds in another ice chest as well as $6,000 cash, Lt. Engolio said.

School gets new principal

Aiken resident William J. Ward has been named the new principal of Ridge Spring-Monetta High School. He replaces Clarence G. Jackson, who retired in August.

Aiken County Board of Education is expected to a approve the appointment at its next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 8. Mr. Ward had previously served as assistant principal of Schofield Middle School.

He has also been the principal of Paul Knox and New Ellenton middle schools.

Student government quits battle

ATHENS -- The University of Georgia's Student Government Association has decided to stop fighting an Athens-Clarke housing ordinance it considers anti-student.

Under the ordinance, no more than two unrelated people can live in the same residence in areas zoned single-family residential. In other residential zones, the limit is four unrelated people.

The SGA External Affairs Committee decided not to attack formally the ordinance because the student body appeared uninterested, Chairman Chris Hoofnagle said.

The committee had been moving to get 1,000 students registered to vote so they would be qualified to sign petitions. The petitions sought a referendum to have the ordinance thrown out.

Bank robber gets life in killing

EATONTON -- A 22-year-old Milledgeville man was sentenced to life without parole Saturday in the fatal shooting of a Putnam County bank manager during a robbery last year.

Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Jim Bright said Putnam County Superior Court Judge Jim Cline issued the sentence immediately after the jury's decision not to seek the death penalty.

Anthony Torrence Veal was convicted Friday by the jury of robbing the Lake Sinclair branch of People's Bank in Eatonton and shooting branch manager Larry Ellington, 57. Mr. Ellington never regained consciousness and died 40 days later.

Mr. Veal was arrested a few hours after the robbery. Authorities found $13,000, including bills with identifying marks showing that they came from the People's Bank.

Man thrown in front of car, dies

CHARLESTON -- A North Charleston man has been killed after several men threw him in the way of an oncoming car.

A woman was driving in the Liberty Hills section of the city Friday morning when she noticed several men walking along the street, said Detective Lt. Melvin Cumbee of the North Charleston Police Department.

As she tried to avoid them, about three or four men picked up the victim and pitched him front of the car, Lt. Cumbee said.

The driver's car struck him. The other men ran and are at large, Lt. Cumbee said.

Paramedics rushed Albert Grant, 38, to Medical University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Lt. Cumbee said the driver, who was shaken but unharmed, will not be charged. A witness backed up her story, he said.

Lt. Cumbee said investigators aren't sure about a motive for the killing.

Teen killer sentenced to life

DARLINGTON -- A Pee Dee teen-ager has been sentenced to life imprisonment for killing his girlfriend.

A jury took only 15 minutes before convicting 19-year-old Eric Graham of murder.

Curtisa Wingate, 17, had been shot to death at Mr. Graham's house in Society Hill two years ago.

The couple had driven from a local pool hall to watch a movie at Mr. Graham's house with his cousin, according to police.

Police said the cousin was about to leave when Mr. Graham pulled a gun. The killer told police that Ms. Wingate accidentally bumped him and the gun went off.

Investigators said the bullet hit Ms. Wingate in the chin and went through her head.

Family suing in fatal air crash

ROCK HILL -- The family of a Charlotte, N.C., woman who had died in a plane crash three years ago has sued the estate of the doctor who flew the plane.

Dr. Blair Bycura and Jennifer McLear were killed in the accident near the Rock Hill-York County airport in August 1995. The lawsuit claims Dr. Bycura's negligence caused the crash.

An autopsy showed Dr. Bycura had a heart attack before the plane crashed, York County Coroner Doug McKown said.

The lawyer that filed the suit, Ben Johnson of Rock Hill, would not comment further on how Dr. Bycura was negligent.

"This is obviously a tragedy and a horrible accident for both families," Mr. Johnson said. "But it really would not be fair for me to comment on the particulars of the case at this time."

Ms. McLear's mother and brother are asking Dr. Bycura's estate for funeral expenses, along with money for pain and suffering and mental shock they say Jennifer McLear suffered when she knew the plane was going to crash.