Originally created 09/17/02

Across South Carolina



Distracted drivers add to death toll

COLUMBIA -Highway deaths attributed to inattentive drivers have soared 73 percent in South Carolina in recent years.

In 1996, the state reported that 91 deaths, 10 percent of the 930 that year, were caused by inattentive drivers. In 2000, the latest year with available statistics, those deaths rose to 157, or 15 percent of the 1,063 fatalities.

Jane Stutts, who is studying driver inattention as the manager of epidemiological studies at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, found that nearly half of the distracted drivers cited something outside the car, such as a wreck or disabled vehicle.

This year, South Carolina began asking whether a cell phone was being used at the time of the accident. Statistics on that will not be available until next year.

Airport screeners say they want jobs back

MYRTLE BEACH -Screeners at Myrtle Beach International Airport who were replaced by federal workers earlier this month have started petitions to get their jobs back.

About 16 of the 38 former screeners met Sunday. Federal employees took over Sept. 4.

Screeners who passed an assessment given by the Transportation Security Administration were eligible to apply for jobs. The agency got more than 1,800 applications for the Myrtle Beach jobs, which pay between $23,400 and $35,600 annually.

Chief calls public first line of defense

COLUMBIA -The first line of defense against terrorists in South Carolina and the rest of the nation is a "vigilant citizenry," the state's homeland security director said Monday.

Speaking at the Governor's Conference on Highway Safety, retired Maj. Gen. Steve Siegfried said that police, firefighters and other emergency workers are more effective when residents alert public safety workers to dangers.

Mr. Siegfried likened the situation to World War II, when residents participated in air raid drills and watched for planes and German U-boats off the East Coast.

Man, son killed in one-car accident

FURMAN -A father and son leaving church died in a single-car accident on U.S. Highway 601, Hampton County Coroner Gordon Rhoden said.

Marshall Brantley, 71, and his son Jeffrey Eugene Brantley, 44, both of Ridgeland, were killed when their Mercedes-Benz skidded across a puddle of water and struck a tree at 2:23 p.m. Sunday, Mr. Rhoden said. Investigators were trying to determine who was driving.

The car's air bags deployed, but Mr. Rhoden said the occupants apparently were not wearing seat belts.