Originally created 12/04/01

In an Accident's Aftermath

BARNWELL, S.C. - Haley Gibson knew there were words left to be said.

That's why she fought as someone held her back from her husband as he lay dead on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 278 in Aiken County.

Brian Gibson - 24, father of two and Haley's husband of two years - died one week ago tonight. He was the victim of a hit-and-run by what police say might be a large truck, possibly a tractor-trailer.

"I just wanted to hold him," Mrs. Gibson, 23, said as she sat on her couch surrounded by pictures of her husband and holding their children, 19-month-old Summer and 3-month-old Brian.

"I thought he still might be alive. He might have had some last thing to say. If he was lying there on the side of the road and he knew he was about to die, he would have said, 'I love you, Haley. I love you."'

Mrs. Gibson has begun the grieving process while South Carolina Highway Patrol investigators continue searching for who hit Mr. Gibson. He was walking at about 11 p.m. about five miles east of New Ellenton.

Lance Cpl. R.K. Hughes said Monday that seven people have called troopers with information about the hit-and-run, but none has provided information they can act on.

Troopers suspect Mr. Gibson was hit by a large truck because they found seven plastic lug nut covers near the scene - the type commonly used on big rigs.

The Gibsons were returning to their Barnwell home from a Nov. 27 anniversary dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in Aiken. Mrs. Gibson was driving the couple's Isuzu Trooper.

They had begun to argue "over something stupid" during dinner and the conversation extended to the car. Mrs. Gibson said they weren't yelling, but she decided to pull the car over about five miles from New Ellenton to talk things out.

A female motorist stopped and asked whether they were OK. Mr. Gibson stepped out of the car, something his wife had asked him to do minutes before.

"I guess he needed some space. But if I had not pulled over to the side of the road he would still be here," Mrs. Gibson said. "It's my fault."

Mrs. Gibson said people have tried to talk her out of blaming herself, but she believes if she hadn't put him on the road, her husband wouldn't have been hit.

The road is often traveled by tractor-trailers and Mrs. Gibson said driving the route after her husband's funeral Friday, she thought about what a driver might have seen. Police suspect the driver remains unaware of the incident.

Anyone with information about the hit-and-run is encouraged to call (800) 768-1501.

Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or matthew.boedy@augustachronicle.com.


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