Across the area

Driver killed, 1 injured in van crash Tuesday

A driver was killed in an Aiken County traffic accident Tuesday.

South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Judd Jones said the crash happened at12:10 p.m. on South Carolina Highway 302 about 8.1 miles south of Wagener.

The driver of a 2006 GMC van ran off the right side of the road, overcorrected, ran off the left side and struck a tree. The identity of the driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, was not released.

A passenger in the vehicle, Ryan Bragg, 22, of the 200 block of Delk Avenue in Barnwell, suffered minor injuries. He was treated at Medical College of Georgia Hospital and released, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Suspect in shooting turns himself in

A man wanted by Aiken authorities in a morning shooting turned himself in Tuesday.

Leviel Priester, of Aiken, was wanted on charges of assault and battery with the intent to kill, Sgt. Aaron Dowdy said. He is accused of shooting his girlfriend's former boyfriend, Rahmel Oliver, at a home in the 1000 block of Alford Street about 1:30 a.m., Sgt. Dowdy said.

According to the girlfriend, she and Mr. Priester were sitting in their home when Mr. Oliver began banging on the door. Mr. Priester went outside to confront Mr. Oliver.

Mr. Oliver pinned Mr. Priester and began choking him, according to the report. Mr. Priester's girlfriend told police she tried to help, and as she did her .38 caliber handgun fell out of her pocket and on the ground. She said Mr. Priester picked up the gun and shot Mr. Oliver in the leg.

Early voting for runoff for District 22 starts

Early voting for a runoff election to fill the District 22 state Senate seat will begin today.

Voters can cast their ballots through Jan. 29 at the Board of Elections office, 530 Greene St.

Polling hours are weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Jan 22. Hours will be extended until 6 p.m. the final week.

The seat became vacant with the appointment of former Sen. Ed Tarver as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Democrats Hardie Davis and Harold Jones II will meet in the Feb. 2 runoff.

Absentee ballots sent through the mail will be issued starting Monday. Voters must submit a written request to the Richmond County Board of Elections by fax or mail. The request should include the person's name, address, birth date and date of election.

H1N1 vaccine clinics set for this week

The Fort Gordon Commissary will offer the H1N1 shots for TRICARE beneficiaries with valid ID from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today.

The Richmond County Health Department main clinic, at 950 Laney-Walker Blvd., is also offering the vaccine Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 10 a.m. and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

The vaccine will be available from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. today at Gracewood, Wheeless Road and Hephzibah elementary schools.

Former editor-in-chief of 'Essence' to speak

The former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine will speak at Aiken Technical College today.

Susan L. Taylor will speak in the Gregg-Graniteville Student Activity Center at 12:45 p.m. for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. The event is a joint effort of the technical college and the University of South Carolina Aiken.

Free tickets for the program are available at the ATC Student Activities office, Building 900. For more information or to reserve tickets, call Bruce Capers at (803) 593-9231, ext. 1604.

Family displaced after house fire Tuesday

A fire early Tuesday in the 2000 block of Edgar Street displaced an Augusta family and sent a Richmond County firefighter to the hospital for heat exhaustion.

The fire was reported about 2:30 a.m. and caused extensive damage to the one-story home, Special Operations Chief Wayne Taylor said.

The Red Cross is helping the family, said Sarah Townsend, the director of public relations and development for the Red Cross Augusta branch.

Man helps catch two suspects in Jeep theft

A concerned citizen helped Aiken authorities nab two men accused of stealing a Jeep on Tuesday.

Aiken Department of Public Safety officers arrested and charged Neal Donovan and Russell Young with malicious injury to real property, breaking and entering to auto and grand larceny about 4 a.m., public safety Sgt. Aaron Dowdy said in a news release.

Someone called police to say two men were acting suspiciously in a Jeep in the 300 block of South Boundary Avenue. Officers arrived and learned that the Jeep was stolen from Sutton Marine, on Park Avenue.

Mr. Donovan and Mr. Young were being held at the Aiken Detention Center. Police are seeking a third suspect.

Police seek woman who stole purses

Columbia County authorities are looking for help identifying a woman they say stole purses from an Evans store.

A loss prevention employee at the Evans Target store said that on Dec. 30 he saw a woman take a $90 purse from the rack and leave the store in Mullins Crossing shopping center without paying for it, according to a Columbia County Sheriff's Office report.

The employee said the woman returned and stole another one. Anyone with information about the woman should call the sheriff's office at (706) 541-2800.

Aiken school board approves some travel

On Tuesday, the Aiken County School Board approved increasing travel expenses for Area 4, citing its location on the edge of the county.

Area 4 covers Ridge Spring, Monetta, Wagener and Salley, each of which involves about a 50-mile trip to the district office for meetings and training. The fully restored budget of $3,131 will be funded from the district's contingency fund.

The school board also pushed back discussing changes in principal evaluations until the Jan 26 meeting.

TRAFFIC UPDATE

Downtown Augusta

- Sixth Street will be closed until Jan. 29 from the Walton Way overpass to Telfair Street. Crews will be replacing a Norfolk Southern railroad track in that area, according to a Richmond County Engineering Department news release.