COLUMBIA -- Rumors of Rep. David Mack's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Around 9 p.m. Wednesday, word started spreading rapidly on Twitter that the North Charleston Democrat had been involved in a car accident in Columbia about 5:30 p.m. that involved a fatality.
"Someone saw the car, saw the tag, reached the conclusion that it was me and ran with it," Mack said Thursday evening as he arrived safely back in North Charleston with the week's Statehouse business wrapped up.
Lawmakers and politicos tweeted and re-tweeted the messages in 140 characters or less, and in rapid succession. They asked for prayers. They asked for more information. They speculated on the situation.
Mack, 57, who is also a radio talk-show host, said his cell phone rang nonstop while his wife fielded calls at their home. He said he has been touched by the outpouring of concern and well-wishes from friends and colleagues.
The accident was real. Mack just wasn't involved. The case of mistaken identity happened because the accident involved a car that was the same color as his and had a "Shag" tag that looked similar to Mack's legislative plate, and had the same number.
Mack said he is fine but one person was killed in the wreck.
The State newspaper reported that Billy Dean Randall, 71, of Lexington was killed in a three-vehicle collision in Columbia. Twenty-year-old Mary M. Reames of Columbia was arrested and charged with a felony for drunken driving.
The lesson, Mack said, at least as it applies to rumors, is be careful what you read on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other unregulated social networks.