Originally created 07/06/99

Area briefs: Patrol says children weren't restrained



A 10-year-old Allendale boy and a newborn girl killed in a weekend head-on collision in Barnwell County were not restrained properly, the South Carolina Highway Patrol said Monday.

Ra-Sean Antown Teasley, 10, and Makayla Hannah Priester, 10 days old, were passengers in a 1989 Buick along with five others Sunday when the car struck a 1985 Oldsmobile driven by Johnny Boynton, 74, of Barnwell.

The accident occurred at about 2:40 p.m. on U.S. Highway 278 about 5 1/2 miles east of Barnwell.

Mr. Boynton became distracted and swerved across the center line, causing the Buick's driver, Roy Kendall Nicholson of Allendale, to slam on his brakes and skid into the path of the oncoming vehicle, Sgt. Nick Wallen of the Highway Patrol said. None of the seven occupants was wearing a seat belt, Sgt. Wallen said.

Ra-Sean died at the scene. Makayla died later from her injuries.

Mr. Boynton was listed in critical condition at Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital on Monday night, as was Andrew Breland of Allendale, a passenger in the front seat of the Buick. Charges are pending, police said.

The children were among 16 people killed on South Carolina roads during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Temperatures heat up holiday

Cars broke down and office workers who didn't have the day off dashed from air-conditioned cars to air-cooled offices as the area roasted Monday in a holiday heat wave.

In Augusta, the high temperature taken at Bush Field Airport before 5 p.m. Monday was 95 degrees. Taking humidity into account, the heat index showed the temperature felt like it was about 105, said meteorologist Jeremy Effortz with Weather Central Inc. in Madison, Wis.

Local temperatures were nowhere near the record high for July 5, however, said WRDW (Channel 12) weatherman Bob Smith. The record was 101 degrees in 1993.

Between midnight and 11 a.m., the AAA Carolinas Motor Club emergency dispatch office in Charlotte, N.C., logged 730 car trouble calls in North Carolina and South Carolina. Workers had expected a few hundred.

"I'm sure the heat has had some impact on it," said shift supervisor Norman Scott, speculating that the high number was related to travelers going home from a long July Fourth weekend.

In South Carolina, the mercury reached 96 degrees in Florence on Sunday and 95 in Columbia. The average high in Columbia for July 5 is 91.

The heat advisory has been extended into this afternoon for Marlboro, Dillon, Marion, Darlington, Florence and Williamsburg counties and the inland portions of Horry and Georgetown counties.

Still, a cooling trend during the past several weeks made the weekend weather seem hotter than it was, said Dave Schuetrum, a weather service technician.

"For about the past three weeks or so, we've been below normal, a little cooler than normal," Mr. Schuetrum said. "We've kind of gotten acclimated to those cooler temperatures, and what we're feeling right now is more normal summer temperatures."

Man drowns swimming to boat

MILLEDGEVILLE -- A Milledgeville man apparently drowned while trying to swim from his lake-front home to a boat on Lake Sinclair, authorities said.

Baldwin County fire and rescue teams pulled the body of 40-year-old Ramon Eugene Heath out of the middle Georgia lake Sunday.

Mr. Heath was trying to swim from the back yard of his home to a boat at about midnight Saturday, said Baldwin County Coroner Wayne Brooks. Friends unsuccessfully tried to rescue him. The body was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for an autopsy.

Fire blamed on leaky valve

CANTON -- A leaky valve was the apparent cause of a propane fire aboard a hot-air balloon that crashed into a house in a Cherokee County subdivision.

The two hot-air balloonists were attending a July Fourth party at a friend's house in Alpharetta when the accident occurred Saturday night.

Steve Turner, 45, of Sandy Springs, had the balloon and basket tied with two ropes to his van, which allowed the craft to ascend several feet into the air but not take off.

He was preparing to take his son Rob, 18, up for an aerial view when flames were discovered around the "whisper valve," a tube that feeds propane to the burner.

Unable to shut off two propane tanks that feed the balloon, the two men jumped to the ground.

The fire burned through the tethering ropes, causing the vessel to take off. It drifted into Cherokee County, where it struck a house. The homeowners doused the fire with a garden hose.

Man's body pulled from lake

MANNING -- A Sumter man has drowned in Lake Marion after attending a late-night weekend party.

The body of Gary Dwayne Jackson was pulled from the lake at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, said Sgt. Harvin Brock of the Natural Resources Department.

Mr. Jackson, 32, had borrowed a boat, and it appears he fell out of it while fishing, Sgt. Brock said.

Officers were called to the Wyboo section of the lake after a homeowner saw an empty boat along the shore with its headlights on and trolling motor down, Sgt. Brock said.

Friends and family said Mr. Jackson had started boating in the Santee area of the lake and moved on to a party, Sgt. Brock said.

Mr. Jackson was last seen leaving a party around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Sgt. Brock said.

Clarendon County Coroner Ranny Stephens is investigating to determine whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

Body of missing man found

BLACKSBURG -- The body of a man missing for several days was found in a field in Blacksburg, and Cherokee County authorities say they hope an autopsy will show whether foul play was involved in the death.

A motorist spotted the body of Edward Hamrick of Blacksburg at about 11 a.m. Sunday about a half-mile off U.S. Highway 29, sheriff's Detective Greg Phillips said.

Mr. Hamrick was last seen by family members Thursday, Detective Phillips said.

An autopsy was planned Monday to determine the cause of death. There were no obvious signs of injury to the body, Detective Phillips said.