Man sentenced in fatal I-26 crash

Samuel Thompson Jr.of Moncks Corner was sentenced to nine years in prison and a $10,000 fine for felony DUI in connection with a two-car collision on Interstate 26 in Charleston on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 that killed a female driver of another vehicle. (Provided)

A Moncks Corner man is now in prison after cutting his trial short this week, pleading guilty to a felony DUI charge for a wreck that killed a 77-year-old woman.

Samuel Thompson Jr., 61, entered the plea on Wednesday in Charleston County Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson sentenced Thompson to nine years in prison and imposed a $10,100 fine for the fatal crash that killed Margaret Deas of Charleston on the afternoon of Sept. 20, 2011, on Interstate 26 near the Rutledge Avenue exit.

Thompson’s blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit of .08, according to Greg Voigt, an assistant solicitor with the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Thompson entered his plea three days into his trial, Voigt said.

“It was blindingly obvious to everyone he was guilty as charged and the best course of action was to plead guilty. He couldn’t see that until the very end,” Voigt said.

Witnesses had told the jury that the car driven by Thompson was speeding when it swerved, struck the guard rail and careened into the center median and, then, the vehicle driven by Deas. Two opened mini-bottles of banana schnapps were found in Thompson’s vehicle after the accident, according to officials with the Solicitor’s Office.

Deas did volunteer work in the community and remained quite active, according to Voigt. “She was a 77-year-old woman who was as active as a 57-year-old woman,” he said.

Voigt said he hopes this case resonates throughout the community and acts as a reminder of the possible consequences of driving under the influence. “You really have to think long and hard before you get behind the wheel,” he said.

With the incarceration of Thompson, who will have to serve at least 85 percent of his nine-year sentence, Voigt said two families are hurt.

“It’s a sad situation all the way around,” Voigt said.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.

Comments { }

Postandcourier.com is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse. Postandcourier.com does not edit user submitted statements and we cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not postandcourier.com. If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click "report abuse" and we will review it for possible removal. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Read our full Terms and Conditions.