Originally created 05/07/00

Across the area


Expert predicts continued drought

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina may be in for a few more months of drought before things start to look better, a state climatologist says.

Most weather experts now agree that La Nina is dying as waters warm in the equatorial Pacific. La Nina in the Pacific tends to dry out the Southeastern United States.

State climatologist Mike Helfert said Friday that La Nina's three-year impact on the state might mean more dryness this summer and then prompt more hurricane formation before the switch to El Nino. So the forecast for a hot, dry summer stands.

"There is a very real drought outside your window today," Mr. Helfert said. "Look out there. It is exhaling moisture out of every green thing you can see; it is getting warm."


Teen charged in two-car accident

A 14-year-old Martinez boy was charged Saturday night in a two-car accident on Evans to Locks Road that sent four people to the hospital.

The teen, whom police wouldn't identify because of his age, was charged with driving without a license, failure to yield the right of way and driving under the influence of alcohol pending the results of a blood-alcohol test, said Columbia County Sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

Capt. Morris said the teen, who was driving a 1993 Nissan Maxima with another 14-year-old Martinez boy, pulled into the path of a Dodge truck driven by Keith Abel, 43, of the 2700 block of Blossom Drive, Augusta.

Chris Hayes, 42, was a passenger in the truck. The collision was almost head-on and took place at about 7 p.m. at the intersection with Fury's Ferry Road. It sent all four occupants to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, but their injuries were not life threatening, Capt. Morris said.

He said the teen-age driver might have to go before a juvenile court judge for the DUI charge.


34-year-old man dies in wreck

A widower and father of three was killed early Saturday after losing control of his pickup on McElmurray Drive.

Robert Crosby, 34, of Hephzibah was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:50 a.m. He died of blunt force trauma to the body, according to Richmond County Coroner Leroy Sims.

Mr. Crosby had been driving north on the road and lost control near the 2100 block. The truck flipped several times, ejecting the driver, Mr. Sims said.


Hydrant testing areas listed

Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department will test fire hydrants this week in the following streets and subdivisions:

Walton Way (2600 to 3000 blocks), Barrett Lane, Martin Lane, Windsor Court, Henry Street, Monte Sano Avenue, Oakland Avenue, Branford Avenue, Hazel Street, Royal Street, Grady Peachtree, Wheeler Road, One Mile Place, Willow Ridge, Middleton Court, Tupelo Drive, Wrightsboro Road (2700 to 3200 blocks), North Leg, Valley Park subdivision, Summer Chase, Damascus Road, Green Leaf Way, Brook Crossing, Silver Birch Lane, Central Avenue, Pine Needle, Comfort Road, Buena Vista, Park Avenue, Lake Forest Drive, Lake Forest Court, Bransford Road, Sand Hill Place, National Hills subdivision, Alexander Drive, Center West Parkway, Claussen Road, West Hill subdivision, the Bertram Road area, Georgetown subdivision, Georgetown South subdivision, Southwick subdivision, Fire Side subdivision and Oklahoma Hills subdivision.


Plant will donate computers

Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Burke County is donating dozens of refurbished personal computers to schools in Burke and Richmond counties.

Forty-one public and private schools will receive 116 computers. The schools were nominated by Plant Vogtle employees.

"We are glad that Plant Vogtle is able to provide these computers to our local schools," said Jeff Gasser, Plant Vogtle general manager. "As a member of this community, we feel it's important to contribute whenever we can."

Plant Vogtle, a two-unit, 2,430-megawatt nuclear power plant, is jointly owned by Georgia Power Co., Oglethorpe Power, MEAG and the city of Dalton, and is operated by Southern Nuclear Operating Co. It is one of the three nuclear power plants in the Southern Co. system.


Two men die in car accident

COLUMBIA -- Two men are dead after their car veered off Bluff Road into some woods and caught fire, authorities say.

The car veered into the oncoming traffic lane at about 9:30 p.m. Friday, swerved back and lost control, a witness said. The car then veered off the road, flipped over once, went down an embankment and came to rest against a tree before igniting, the witness said.

John Henry Morant, 54, of Columbia, was driving the car, according to the Richland County Coroner's office. The other man had not been identified early Saturday afternoon, the coroner said. Both men died of multiple trauma and not from the fire, the coroner said.

The Highway Patrol and the coroner's office are investigating.


Woman's body found after chase

LAREDO -- A woman's body was found inside a truck after a Georgia man led authorities on a 35-mile chase that began at a U.S. border checkpoint on Interstate 35 in Webb County, just outside of Laredo.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said Eugene Sang Hahn, 43, who had a Georgia driver's license, pulled into the checkpoint at about 6:30 p.m. Friday.

When a drug-sniffing dog alerted on the vehicle, Border Patrol officers attempted to search the truck, but Mr. Hahn drove off, triggering a chase on I-35 that ended about half an hour later, when officers used a spiked strip to puncture his tires, officials said.

Mr. Hahn was immediately flown to Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio for what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds on his wrist, DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said. It wasn't until Mr. Hahn's truck was impounded that the woman's body was found, Mr. Vinger said.

Mr. Hahn was reported in stable condition Saturday at the hospital, where he was under guard. No charges had been filed in the case Saturday, Mr. Vinger said.


School's board faces ouster

ALPHARETTA -- The 21-member Mount Pisgah Christian School board is about to be ousted after a disagreement with church officials over the board's responsibilities.

The board, which includes Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz and comedian Jeff Foxworthy, has until Wednesday to resign or face removal May 17.

"We are standing together on principle," board Chairman Therrell "Sonny" Murphy Jr. said Friday. "I guess we'll go down on principle."

Problems arose between the school board and Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church leaders when board members began to feel their only role was raising money, rather than planning and setting policies for the Alpharetta school, Mr. Murphy said.

The board has raised about $4.6 million to add a high school to the elementary school.


Managers arrested for obscenity

WALHALLA -- The managers of Oconee County's two adult entertainment clubs have been arrested on obscenity charges, police say.

Tiger Tails managers Bob Lee Little, 74, and Andrew Douglas Carver, 50, both of Seneca, were charged Friday with disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity, Chief Deputy Steve Pruitt said.

Shannon Michael Donald, 25, of Seneca, manager of the Elite Show Club, also was arrested and charged with disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity, Chief Deputy Pruitt said.

Nine dancers and one customer also were arrested, police said.

"The activity included dancing totally nude, bending over and exposing their genitals to customers, physical contact with customers and moving their bodies to simulate sexual activity," Chief Deputy Pruitt said.

The obscenity charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine. A judge set bond for the three managers at $5,000 each.


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