Originally created 02/26/03

Across the area



Evans tornado was expensive

The F2 tornado that ripped through Evans on Saturday caused more than $300,000 in damage.

Damage assessors for Columbia County Emergency Services completed their property damage survey Tuesday, Director Pam Tucker said.

According to the assessment, 39 homes, primarily in Windmill Plantation subdivision, sustained tornado damage. The total cost of the damage is $309,600.

Officials from the National Weather Service confirmed that Saturday's tornado was in the F2 class. Winds gusted between 113 and 153 mph, and the tornado left a wake of destruction 100 yards wide and nearly a mile long.

No injuries were reported.

DA clears investigator of shooting charges

District Attorney Danny Craig has cleared a sheriff's investigator who fatally shot a boarding home resident after being fired upon.

Mr. Craig made his decision after studying a report by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which examined the shooting of Bennie Bauknight by Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Dan Carrier.

In a letter to the GBI, Mr. Craig said the GBI report "establishes without contradiction or reservation, that the shooting of Mr. Bauknight was a necessary and appropriate act of self-defense by Investigator Carrier, who was shot by Mr. Bauknight before returning fire.

"Returning fire to eliminate the threat posed by Mr. Bauknight was in keeping with the law and the fundamental law enforcement training standards," Mr. Craig said.

The district attorney said the matter would not be presented to a grand jury because there was not a legal basis for presenting an indictment.

Injured woman needs blood, family says

Family members of a woman who was seriously injured in a head-on collision Saturday on Interstate 20 are asking for blood donations.

Stephanie Loyal, 29, was in critical condition Tuesday at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, said Danielle Wong, a hospital spokeswoman.

Ms. Loyal was a passenger in a 1998 Toyota Avalon that was hit head-on at about 1 a.m. Saturday by a 2002 Ford Taurus driven by Jennifer Paige Langley, who was going the wrong way in the westbound lanes, said Maj. Richard Weaver, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

MCG will accept directed donations specifically for Ms. Loyal, and donors can give blood at a donation room in the hospital, Ms. Wong said. People with type O or with AB-positive blood are urged to donate.

For more information, call Shepeard Community Blood Center at 737-4551, the American Red Cross Blood Center at 868-8800 or the MCG Donor Room at 721-3694.

Ms. Loyal's husband, William, was listed in good condition at MCG on Tuesday.

Police academy picks ex-trooper to direct

Bob Wilson has been selected as director of Augusta's state-run police academy, replacing Michael Farrell, who was fired amid allegations of wrongdoing.

Mr. Wilson was most recently assistant director of the East Georgia Police Academy. He has been at the academy for three years and previously worked at the Augusta Police Department and the Medical College of Georgia Police Bureau. He is a former Kentucky State Police trooper with 20 years of experience.

The academy, off Deans Bridge Road, is a satellite facility designed to train public safety personnel. It serves Burke, Columbia, Emanuel, Glascock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Screven, Taliaferro, Warren and Wilkes counties.

Maj. Farrell was terminated as director in November after serving less than a year. Authorities declined to discuss details of the firing.

Group honors Augusta for service to trees

For the 15th year in a row, Augusta has been named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

To become a Tree City, a community must meet four standards: It must have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a comprehensive forestry program and an Arbor Day observance. The program is sponsored in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service.

"I'm delighted that we are again being recognized as a city with a commitment to protecting and enhancing our urban forest," Mayor Bob Young said.

Two men rob pizza deliverer at gunpoint

A Domino's Pizza deliveryman was robbed Monday night in the parking lot of Merrick Place Apartments on Skinner Mill Road, a sheriff's report states.

Brandon Duncan told police he was returning to his car at about 10 p.m. after delivering a pizza when he was approached by two men. One of the men pointed a gun at him, ordered him to turn around and demanded money, a report states.

Mr. Duncan told police that after he gave the robbers $15 and a $26 check, they ran from the complex.

Police stop jumper on 13th Street bridge

North Augusta police say they stopped a man from jumping off the 13th Street bridge Monday night.

A 32-year-old from Asheville, N.C., was found standing on the outside of the bridge at about 6:30 p.m., a report states. The man was holding onto the railing and leaning out over the water.

The responding public safety officer grabbed the man and pulled him across the railing and onto the ground, a report states. The man told police he wanted to kill himself, but police cited him for disorderly conduct and took him to University Hospital for evaluation.

It was unclear Tuesday whether the man was the same person seen at 3:40 p.m. Monday. A motorist told police she thought the man jumped, and Richmond County authorities searched the river from Fifth to 13th streets without finding anyone.