Leon Hosey, 44, of Aiken, is charged with felony DUI in death of passenger Staple Lawrence, right

An Aiken man was drunk when he wrecked into a tree last year and caused the death of his passenger, authorities said.

Leon Hosey, 44, of Aiken, was formally charged Wednesday night with felony driving under the influence resulting in death.

According to authorities, Hosey was driving on March 11, 2019, when he ran his 2005 Ford Mustang off the side of the road on Talatha Church Road and struck a tree. His passenger, 61-year-old Staple Lawrence, was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead after being rushed to Augusta University Medical Center, Coroner Darryl Ables said.

After his death, the victim was remembered as a friendly person. One former neighbor said this, “Staple was my good neighbor when I lived on Vine Street. He always knew what to say when you were having a bad day. He always had a smile on his face and always made you laugh. He will be surely missed and may he rest in peace.”