Originally created 07/12/00

Across the area

Morning accident kills area motorist

A North Augusta man died Tuesday after an early morning collision in Merriwether community, County Coroner Thurmond Burnett said.

Henry Mullenhard, 82, of 830 Murrah Road, stopped at the intersection of South Carolina Highway 230 and Murrah Road at 6:40 a.m. and tried to turn onto Highway 230. His 1989 Ford Contour was struck in the driver's side by a 1990 Chevrolet Blazer traveling north on Highway 230, South Carolina Highway Patrol Cpl. Mark Gosnell said.

Mr. Mullenhard was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta, where he died from massive internal injuries at 11:30 a.m., the coroner said.

The driver of the Blazer, John Wombles, 37, of the 200 block of Elgin Drive, Martinez, was not injured, Cpl. Gosnell said.

The accident is under investigation, the corporal said.

Bill clears to fund fire station

Congress has approved a bill that would give Fort Gordon a new fire station.

The Senate unanimously approved the Military Construction Appropriations Act on June 30. The bill includes $2.6 million in funding for the Fort Gordon fire station.

The measure now awaits President Clinton's signature.

Party will benefit cancer charity

Augustans will have a chance next month to attend a "beach party" to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The event, to be held from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at Radisson Riverfront Hotel Augusta, will feature a band, dancing and an extensive buffet, coordinator Darryl Leech said.

In addition, an auction will sell off vacations to places such as Aruba, San Francisco, San Diego and Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, Mr. Leech said. Some of the trips include airfare, he said.

Dress for the event is casual, Mr. Leech said. Only 500 tickets will be sold for the event, which costs $65 per couple or $37.50 per person. For information or to purchase tickets, contact the American Cancer Society at 731-9900.

Electrical fire burns church

CENTRAL - An Upstate church was severely damaged after an electrical short in a surge protector sparked a fire, investigators say.

The Monday morning fire caused heavy smoke damage throughout Freedom Fellowship Church and destroyed the sanctuary.

Firefighters had the blaze under control within 15 minutes after their arrival, but Central Fire Chief Joe Head said the fire was burning long before his crew got there.

As church members sorted through vacation Bible school craft projects, pastor Mike Cothran said his flock would persevere.

"Only the building burned," he said. "The church is alive and well."

City toughens on body piercing

ROCK HILL - Rock Hill has joined a handful of other South Carolina cities that put restrictions on body-piercing businesses.

Under the new law, which excludes ear piercing, body piercing establishments cannot operate within 500 feet of homes, churches, day care centers and schools. Businesses also would be prohibited from displaying signs that illustrate piercing.

Some body piercers say the city is trying to curtail a growing trend. Karina Arlington, who owns a piercing shop in Rock Hill, said the new law might make children try to pierce themselves or others.

Rock Hill's law is similar to ordinances in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Union and a few other cities. The Legislature also weighed in on the issue this session, banning body piercing for children under 18 unless they have parental consent, and making businesses get state permits.

Robbery suspect dies in shootout

GAINESVILLE - A robbery suspect was killed Monday night in a shootout with Hall County sheriff's deputies who had chased him after a convenience store holdup.

Sheriff Robert Vass identified the victim as Sayed S. Ahmed of Atlanta. Mr. Ahmed's age is unknown.

Deputies were called at about 11 p.m. to an armed robbery at the RK Food Mart near Lake Lanier Islands. The robber took about $200 from the cash register and additional money from the cashier, Sheriff Vass said.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Jim Hallman said Mr. Ahmed was armed with a 9 mm Glock handgun.

As Mr. Ahmed fled in a stolen car and Hall County deputies chased him, shots were fired. About three miles from the store, the suspect and the deputies both lost control of their cars and crashed into a ditch, Sheriff Vass said. Mr. Ahmed raised his gun at the officers and they opened fire, striking Mr. Ahmed several times in the upper body, the sheriff said. No deputies were injured.

Falling sign kills girl in store

CARTERSVILLE - Bartow County authorities Tuesday said the death of an 11-year-old girl killed when a 200-pound sign fell from a convenience store ceiling onto her head was an accident.

Anna Chambers of Marietta died Sunday after the sign - wallboard covered with tile and neon - fell from above a soft-drink fountain machine where she and her mother were getting a soda.

Anna's mother, Karen Chambers, also was struck by the 6-foot-long sign, which was about 4 feet wide. She was treated and released from a Cartersville hospital.

"It's kind of weird, a freak accident," Bartow County sheriff's Sgt. Tommy Stanley said Tuesday, as the department closed its investigation.

The sign protruded from the ceiling of the Speedway SuperAmerica convenience store.

Tar balls baffle authorities

CHARLESTON - The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating small balls of tar that washed up on Sullivans Island and the Isle of Palms.

Lt. Jim Mahney of the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office said investigators Monday morning found about one of the quarter-size balls for every 10 yards of beach.

The discovery of the tar balls came just a day after a hard, black substance was found in the grass along the Wando River at Daniel Island.

It was unclear whether the incidents are related, but Wayne Fanning of the state Department of Health and Environmental Controlls Trident Environmental Quality Control office said the Daniel Island spill likely was related to a fuel oil spill Friday at the Wando Terminal. Samples of the tar balls have been sent to a laboratory for analysis, and will be compared to the samples from Daniel Island and from the fuel spill.

Fire scorches downtown building

The Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department is investigating a fire that scorched several rooms in a downtown apartment building Tuesday. One woman was injured when she slipped out a second-story window trying to escape thick smoke and heat.

Gloria Nettles, 39, was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital with a possible broken arm. Her sister said she was trapped on the second floor by smoke in the stairwell, then lost her balance while preparing to leap from a window.

The department responded to the blaze at 1211 Greene St. - a two-story brick house listed in the National Register of Historic Places - at about 8:20 p.m. after a passer-by reported flames billowing from back, upstairs windows. Firefighters rescued one man from a second-story window and doused the fire, saving the majority of the building, located at the base of the John C. Calhoun Expressway access ramp, Battalion Chief James Freeman said.

Residents of the building, which contains nine apartments, said the fire was set by an angry boyfriend of a tenant who moved out earlier in the day. An investigation is continuing.

Women charged in shoplifting

Although police say a group of women entered a Martinez Kmart on Tuesday night to shoplift clothes and other items, one of the women ended up losing her shirt in the process.

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said six women, all from Waynesboro, went into the store on Washington Road at about 7:30 p.m. and attempted to take several pieces of women's and men's clothing and baby items.

After being spotted in the act, the women began running, Capt. Morris said.

One of the women lost her shirt in a struggle with a store security officer. The woman, who was wearing a tank top underneath, dashed across the store's parking lot to a nearby McDonald's, sheriff's Deputy Andre Jenkins said.

Four women - Minnie Hughes, 47; Regina Bunyon, 23; Monique Young, 18; and Garnet Shaniece Gaines, 19 - were arrested and charged with misdemeanor shoplifting.

Ms. Gaines was found hiding in a restroom in the nearby McDonald's wearing a tank top but no shirt. The others arrested were foundinthe Kmart.

Two other women escaped and were last seen getting into a car. Police say they believe the women returned to Waynesboro.


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