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HomeNewsCCSO: Compassion Led to No Charges Against Mom in Daughter's Death

CCSO: Compassion Led to No Charges Against Mom in Daughter’s Death


Columbia County authorities have decided against charging a Grovetown mother who caused an April accident that led to the death of her 3-year-old daughter.

Samecia Smith, 29, had faced possible charges of vehicular homicide and failure to maintain lane in the April 28 death of Zora Paschal. On the day of her death, the sheriff’s office sent out a press release saying Smith would be charged since she was at fault.

“The officer decided she had gone through enough by losing her daughter,” Maj. Morris said this week. “We do have compassion.”

The wreck happened on Columbia Road at the entrance to Woodlawn Baptist Church when Smith was traveling east and didn’t realize traffic had stopped in front of her, sheriff’s Maj. Steve Morris said at the time. She swerved to avoid a rear-end collision and went into the oncoming lane. That’s when she was struck by a westbound Jeep Cherokee.

There were questions about whether the girl was in a car seat when the accident happened. A previous photo of the girl appears to show her riding in the vehicle without a car seat. And a video surfaced this week showing the girl being allowed to steer a car while sitting in the lap of her father in the driver’s seat. Her mother’s voice can be heard from the passenger seat.

In April, Maj. Morris said the child was in a car seat in the backseat of vehicle, but she had severe head and brain injuries and was killed instantly. Maj. Morris said there was no evidence of cell phone use or alcohol or drug abuse.

“It was clearly an accident,” Maj. Morris said.

The driver of the Cherokee was identified as 65-year-old Mary Hyer, known to the WGAC radio audience as newscaster Mary Liz Nolan. She suffered only minor injuries.

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.
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