New Ellenton police chief killed in wreck

New Ellenton’s chief of police was killed this afternoon in a two-vehicle wreck – the first traffic fatality of the year for Aiken County.

Chief Johnny Hamilton, 55, was pronounced dead at the scene of a collision that occurred at 3:15 p.m. on Walker Street at the intersection of Poole Road in Perry, S.C., just as a rain storm swept through the area.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating.

According to Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton, Chief Hamilton was traveling north on Poole Road headed to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia on business when he failed to yield the right of way at the intersection with Walker Road. That caused the chief’s vehicle to be struck by a 1994 Dodge truck driven by Donnie Black, of Springfield, S.C., who was transported to Palmetto Richland Memorial hospital in Columbia, Mr. Carlton stated. A passenger in Chief Hamilton’s 2008 Crown Victoria police car, Maria Kenedy, was taken to the same hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Chief Hamilton was not wearing a seat belt, Mr. Carlton stated.

“It’s a tragic loss,” New Ellenton Mayor Vernon Dunbar said of Chief Hamilton. “We’re all going to miss him.”

Chief Hamilton was an officer on the police department prior to his promotion to chief of police in 2006, filling the position vacated by Hugh Ray earlier that year.

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