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HomeNewsAiken Attorney Will Be Cited, Not Arrested, in Traffic Death

Aiken Attorney Will Be Cited, Not Arrested, in Traffic Death

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Aiken Attorney Thomas Woodruff Jr. will be cited and not arrested in the March 30th accident that killed sidewalk pedestrian Lukisha Thomas, authorities said today.

Woodruff, of Aiken, has been cited for Careless Driving, Section 42-20 of the City of Aiken Code of Ordinances. He was not arrested and no booking photo was taken.

The charges have been filed following the fatal vehicle collision which occurred on March 30, 2013, and resulted in the death of Ms. Lukisha Thomas of Aiken, and critically injured Mr. Ray Wooden Jr. of Aiken.

“The Aiken Department of Public Safety expresses their condolences to the family of Ms. Lukisha Thomas and hope for a full and complete recovery for Mr. Wooden,” Lt. Karl Odenthal said in a press release.

Thomas Woodruff Jr. was the driver of a 2006 Jeep Cherokee travelling northbound on York Street NE, which left the roadway, and struck Thomas and Wooden as they were walking southbound on the sidewalk.

During the investigation, officers conducted a technical reconstruction of the collision, analyzing data collected from the forensic mapping of the collision scene, and interviewing several witnesses and the driver of the vehicle.

Investigators ruled out alcohol and/or drug impairment of Woodruff based on the observations of multiple officers on scene, who have been trained in Advanced DUI Detection, and through independent toxicology reports. The toxicology report indicated negative results in Woodruff’s system for alcohol and/or drugs, Lt. Odenthal said.

During the investigation officers were able to rule out excessive speed as a contributing factor by using linear momentum, kinetic energy, and time and distance equations. This determination was based on the analysis of evidence and measurements collected from the scene.

“In addition to ruling out alcohol and/or drugs, and speeding as contributing factors, officers found no indication that the use of a cellular phone or texting played a part in the collision,” Lt. Odenthal said.

THE STATEMENT FROM AIKEN PUBLIC SAFETY:
“After reviewing the evidence, and interviewing several witnesses to the collision, the investigating officers found no evidence that Woodruff was driving with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”, otherwise known as “Reckless Driving” or “Reckless Vehicular Homicide” as defined in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 56-5-2920 and 56-5-2910 respectively.

In addition to the lack of evidence to support a “Reckless Driving” or “Reckless Vehicular Homicide” charge, investigating officers found no evidence of criminal negligence by Woodruff. Criminal negligence must exist in order to be charged with the crime of “Involuntary Manslaughter” according to South Carolina Code of Laws Section 16-3-60. Criminal negligence is defined as “the reckless disregard of the safety of others.”

After reviewing the available evidence in the case, and consultation with the Aiken County Solicitor’s Office and the City of Aiken Solicitor, it was determined that the charge of “Careless Driving” as defined in the City of Aiken Code of Ordinances, Section 42-40 was the most appropriate charge currently available under state and local laws.

The Careless Driving ordinance reads that “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle in a careless manner in disregard of the safety of persons or property upon any street, sidewalk, alley or parking area, public or private, within the corporate limits of the city”.

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Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Black driver, white pedestrian would’ve equal vehicle manslaughter. Booked, cited, and jail time at court. White driver, black pedestrian equals another justifiable manslaughter under first offender, and rights restored after a 12 month $350.00 fine. Don’t ask why just smile their time coming, and some time have expired. Don’t ask why!!!!!!!!!!!! KING

  2. Humm? This girl was a Thomas. The 2 Drummings girls who attacked the off duty cop who was following them were, also, part of the Thomas family. The Brooks girl from Clearwater looks just like one of these girls (the 2 teens Brooks and Turner, shot on Thanksgiving 2010 in Augusta), The guy who raped and assaulted the 22 yr. old in downtown Aiken was a Brooks. The 2 Drummings girls’ mother was Connie Drummings whose body was found in the pool of an Aiken County Sheriff’s home. I wonder if there is a connection. Was this guy on probation? Who was his lawyer? Who was his probation officer? Where do they buy these SUVs with no income?

  3. So if a person was stopped on a bridge before they got to the city limit of , let’s say, North Augusta, by a North Augusta policeman, and charged with careless driving, then the policeman was not only out of his jurisdiction, but the charge was not legal. interesting!

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