Originally created 12/16/00

Across the area



AIKEN
Two-car wreck kills 76-year-old driver

A 76-year-old Aiken County man was killed Friday in a two-car collision on U.S. Highway 1 that tied up traffic for nearly three hours, authorities said.

The man's name was being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The accident occurred when the man was attempting to turn his 1987 Ford Crown Victoria onto the bypass from the eastbound lane of Highway 1 at about 2:20 p.m., said Aiken Department of Public Safety spokesman David Turno. A westbound driver in a 1988 Ford truck struck the man's car, spinning it around.

The driver of the Crown Victoria was taken to the emergency room of Aiken Regional Medical Centers, where he was pronounced dead, Mr. Turno said. The other driver, an Aiken County man whose name was not immediately available, refused treatment at the scene, Mr. Turno said.

Traffic in the westbound lane of Highway 1 was rerouted to South Carolina Highway 421 for more than two hours but was flowing again by rush hour. No charges were filed as Aiken officers continued their investigation.

AUGUSTA
Holiday parade set for Sunday

The annual Augusta Jaycees Christmas Parade will take place downtown from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The procession will begin at 13th and Broad streets, proceeding east on Broad in the westbound lanes, then turning right on Seventh Street and ending at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Department asks that no vehicles be left on the north side of Broad Street after 9 a.m. Sunday. Vehicles should be moved to the south side of the street (closer to Ellis Street).

Anyone with questions about parking is asked to call Lt. Jimmy Wylds of the sheriff's department at 821-1484.

AUGUSTA
Judge rejects retrial in rape

Prosecutors cannot retry a man on a rape charge, a judge ruled this week.

Senior Judge Bernard J. Mulherin Sr. ruled Thursday in Richmond County Superior Court that defense attorney Paul David was correct in his contention a second trial for Johnny S. Heggs would be a constitutional violation.

Mr. David successfully argued to the court that Mr. Heggs, now 61, was implicitly acquitted of a rape charge when he was tried in April 1998. A second trial would be double jeopardy and a violation of the Fifth Amendment, Mr. David contended.

In October, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed Mr. Heggs' 1998 child molestation conviction, ruling the judge improperly gave the jury the option of finding Mr. Heggs guilty of child molestation if the jury did not believe Mr. Heggs was guilty of the original charge, rape.

Mr. Heggs was previously convicted of rape and statutory rape in Toombs County Superior Court and sentenced to eight years in prison. He was paroled in 1993.

AIKEN
Man arrested in home arson

A North Augusta man has been arrested on charges of setting fire to his own home, authorities said Friday.

Michael Anthony Roberts, 31, of the 200 block of C.C. Camp Road, North Augusta, was charged with second-degree arson after surrendering Thursday to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office. He was later freed on bond from the Aiken County Detention Center.

Firefighters responded to a blaze on C.C. Camp Road on Oct. 2. The fire caused heavy damage to the suspect's home before firefighters put it out. Sheriff's investigators determined that the homeowner poured a flammable liquid in a laundry area to accelerate the fire, said Lt. Michael Frank, who declined to discuss a motive.

Anyone who suspects that a fire might have been caused by arson can call (866) 88-CRIME. Callers are eligible for cash rewards of up to $1,000.

AIKEN
Firm analyzes bus fuel mix-up

An Aiken County company was testing its fuels Friday to determine how gasoline was distributed to Lexington and Richland County school buses in the place of diesel fuel.

"We're having (the fuel) analyzed," said Tim Dangerfield, vice president of REI of Aiken. The company has provided fuel for the state's 5,600 school buses for more than four years.

Mr. Dangerfield said a check of the paperwork indicates the fuel was diesel.

"When you read and hear about it in the paper, they say we mixed (diesel) with gasoline," he said. "Well, of course, someone is saying it is gasoline. Well, it could be partly gasoline. But we're trying to find out what it is. And that's why we analyze it."

Mr. Dangerfield said he expects to know the results of the tests Monday or Tuesday.

"But I can tell you this: The bill of lading, the bill we actually pick up at the terminal, says diesel fuel, 7,500 gallons of diesel fuel," Mr. Dangerfield said.

The problem parked about 100 buses Thursday as maintenance employees worked to get the gasoline out of the buses before it damaged the diesel engines.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Bull bolts before Nativity scene

ANDERSON - One performer for St. John's Methodist Church's live Nativity may have gotten a big case of stage fright.

Omen, a 600-pound bull, escaped from his pen Thursday where he waited for his role in The Everlasting Light.

"He became an escape artist," said Stephen Vickery, the performance's coordinator. "He's really just a big bear. But he'll run at you and scare you."

The long-haired Scottish Highlander bull wandered around town about an hour before Anderson police rounded him up.

Mr. Vickery said the church will use a smaller, "more docile" bull for the rest of the performances.

GEORGIA
Acid spill closes I-75 stretch

CALHOUN - A tractor-trailer carrying acid wrecked early Friday in northwest Georgia, closing a six-mile stretch of Interstate 75 in both directions.

The truck was carrying sodium hydroxide, nitric and hydrochloric acids, and another chemical that was not immediately identified. Some of the liquid spilled onto the highway, and a hazardous materials crew was called in to clean it up, said Adam Pledger of the Georgia State Patrol.

The southbound rig owned by PB&S Chemical Co. in Henderson, Ky., crashed just before 4 a.m. at the Bartow-Gordon county line between Adairsville and Calhoun, about 50 miles northwest of Atlanta.

The state Department of Transportation reopened two northbound lanes and one southbound lane at late morning. All lanes of the interstate were expected to reopen by 9 p.m., department spokeswoman Karlene Barron said.

Mohamed Arafa, a DOT spokesman, said the truck driver, who suffered only minor injuries in the crash, was reaching for a water bottle and lost control of his truck, striking the guardrail.