DEADLY WEEKEND ON SOUTH CAROLINA HIGHWAYS
Several crashes, one involving alcohol, highlight the need for increased accountability.
Anderson, SC – Over the past several days the upstate has seen several tragic motor vehicle fatalities and injuries. On Friday, September 25, 2020, Sergeant Ethan Kaskin of the Anderson Police Department, was killed in a head on collision on Highway 24. The entire community mourned the loss of this long-time public servant. According to WYFF 4, Sergeant Kaskin was driving east, when a car crossed over into his lane of travel striking his vehicle head on. The reaction in Anderson was heartbreaking, as members of our community recalled a man of great integrity and commitment to his family and profession.
Earlier in the week, at the Oak Forest Apartment complex in Belton, South Carolina, there was an incident where a motorist recklessly, and perhaps intentionally, ran into two folks. WYFF 4 confirmed that Butch Barbre of Piedmont, passed away from his injuries on Saturday, September 26, 2020. Police arrested a suspect on Friday, according to Sergeant. J.T. Foster of the ACSO. The suspect, Brandon Taylor, was initially charged with attempted murder. It is likely that these charges will be upgraded to some level of homicide given Mr. Barbre’s death.
Also, over this weekend, a 19-year-old man from Easley, South Carolina was charged with one count of felony DUI and two counts of DUI with great bodily injury. According to WYFF 4, Andrew Brezeale of Easley, was headed north on Highway 183, when his pickup truck went left of center line striking a Toyota head on. According to WYFF, the driver of the Toyota died at the scene, while two young children were transported by EMS to the hospital.
The case involving the alleged felony DUI in Easley raises numerous issues. Obviously, if the allegations are true, the Defendant will face exposure not only to the criminal courts, but to the civil justice system as well. Felony DUI carries a minimum of one (1) year in jail and a maximum of up to twenty-five (25) years in jail. Furthermore, not only is the Defendant liable, but the entity or individual that furnished alcohol to the Defendant may have civil and/or criminal exposure. South Carolina’s “Dram Shop” laws prohibit the sale of alcohol to any person under the age of twenty-one (21). Therefore, it is possible that the gas station, restaurant, or private individual that provided the alcohol to Mr. Brezeale will face civil claims.
“Dram Shop” cases refer to liability that is established against the seller of alcohol. South Carolina Code §§ 61-4-580, 61-6-2220, 61-4-50, 61-4-90, and 61-6-4070 are the criminal alcohol control statutes. Violation of one of these statues renders the person or entity guilty of the violation liable to injured third parties for monetary damages. For example, if a gas station sells alcohol to an underage person without checking for a proper ID, and then that underage person gets drunk and crashes into a third party, the gas station is on the hook for any injuries. Any civil investigation into the Brezeale case will likely look hard at how and where Mr. Brezeale obtained alcohol.
All three of these tragic incidents involving automobiles, highlight the dangers of car crashes in South Carolina. Every year approximately 1,000 lives are lost on South Carolina highways. Furthermore, many those crashes are caused by drivers who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. In recent weeks, Anderson, Greenville, and Spartanburg have suffered a rash of fatal car crashes culminating in the incidents over this past weekend.