Originally created 02/05/06

Son-in-law faces charges of homicide after wreck



A Eustis, Fla., man in the area for a funeral is dead, and his son-in-law is charged with homicide by motor vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol and hit-and-run after a Friday night three-car wreck that injured three others on Furys Ferry Road in Evans near the South Carolina state line.

Cordell Harmon, 61, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident at 8:15 p.m. near the intersection of Furys Ferry Road and Rivermont Drive, Columbia County Deputy Coroner Vernon Collins said. An autopsy will be performed, he said.

Mr. Harmon's son-in-law, Benfort Hendricks, 39, of Orlando, Fla., also was charged with having an open container while operating a vehicle and weaving over the roadway. He is being held at the Columbia County Detention Center on $14,500 bond.

The wreck occurred shortly after 7 p.m., when Mr. Hendricks' Ford Expedition crossed the center line and struck a Toyota RAV-4 driven by Loretta Shelko-Percival, 50, of Parksville, S.C., Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said.

The Expedition also collided with a Ford Ranger driven by Tim Flesner, 55, of Martinez, Capt. Morris said.

Mr. Harmon and his daughter Cynthia Hendricks, 41, who was injured, were passengers in the Expedition, Capt. Morris said.

Mrs. Hendricks, Ms. Shelko-Percival and Mr. Flesner were taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, Capt. Morris said.

Mrs. Hendricks was listed in good condition, Ms. Shelko-Percival was listed in serious condition and Mr. Flesner was released from the hospital Saturday, MCG spokeswoman Deborah Humphrey said.

After the wreck, Mr. Hendricks fled the scene on foot before authorities arrived, Capt. Morris said.

"He (Mr. Hendricks) was apprehended (before midnight) at the Guesthouse Inn where he was staying," Capt. Morris said.

The Hendrickses and Mr. Harmon were staying in the Augusta area to attend a funeral, Mr. Collins said.

The funeral for Nancy Brooks Harmon, of Clarks Hill, S.C., was held Saturday at G.L. Brightharp & Sons Mortuary in North Augusta.

A woman who answered the telephone at the mortuary said Mrs. Harmon had a son named Cordell Harmon, from Eustis, Fla.

Reach J. Scott Trubey at 868-1222, ext. 109, or jeffery.trubey@augustachronicle.com.