Woman charged after video shows 2 children being beaten

March 30, 2011 

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said Tuesday a secretly-recorded video showing two children, ages 2 and 3, being beaten by their father’s fiancee was “one of the worst things I have ever seen.”

“It made me mad, it made me disgusted and then it broke my heart,” said Matthews.

The video, taken by an unidentified bystander using a cellphone camera, showed a woman beating the two small children with her fists, then with a strap and finally with a whiffle ball bat, all the time screaming and cursing them. It was not known late Tuesday where the incident took place.

Crystal Lawton, 38, who was caring for the children, is charged with various felony counts of unlawful conduct toward a child, Matthews said.

The children are now with their paternal grandparents, he said.

The person who shot the video notified deputies, who in turn told investigators, Matthews said.

The Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the case.

Matthews said it was lucky the bystander had the cellphone camera to record the incident, as well as the courage to contact deputies.

“It makes me wonder how many children like this are being beaten across the state and there’s no one to help them,” Matthews said.

- John Monk

Pilot who died in crash was N.Y. man

The pilot killed in a plane crash Friday was a New York man who was an experienced flier, Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers said Tuesday.

Wolfgang Buergel, 71, of East Aurora, N.Y., died on impact when his Piper PA-20 crashed into a group of trees in Elgin shortly before 3 p.m.

Fellers said Buergel, the only person in the plane, had left New York that morning and was on his way south to Florida for a “fly-in” involving experimental aircraft.

Fellers said there was no indication that Buergel planned to stop in South Carolina during the trip.

The cause of the crash was not known. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

The Piper PA-20 is a single-engine light aircraft prized for its ruggedness, spacious cabin and versatility.

- John Monk

Woman who died in trailer fire identified

A woman who died in a predawn trailer fire in woods off Two Notch Road has been identified.

Carrie Nelson, 49, who had no permanent address, died of smoke inhalation in Monday’s fire, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Tuesday. Identification was made through X-rays and medical record comparisons.

No foul play was suspected, Watts said.

The fire was in an abandoned construction trailer in the woods off the 7300 block of Two Notch, he said.

The wooded area is behind a strip mall, and fire crews had to cut through a fence to get to the burning trailer, said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins. The woman’s body was found among the trailer’s charred remains.

The fire started in a wheelbarrow being used as a makeshift heating device by people inside the trailer, according to a preliminary investigation by the Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office. The fire ignited nearby combustibles inside the structure, resulting in the spread of the fire.

- John Monk

McColl councilman accused of fondling woman

MCCOLL A McColl city councilman has been arrested and charged with assault after police say he fondled a woman who was renting property from him.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said Tuesday that 76-year-old Edward “Pat” Bradley Odom Jr. had been arrested and charged with third-degree assault and battery.

Police say Odom grabbed and fondled the woman at a Marlboro County home, against her will, on April 5. SLED says Odom was the woman’s landlord.

Officials at McColl City Hall said Tuesday that Odom was still a member of the City Council.

- The Associated Press

Woman gets first S.C. lung transplant in 14 years

CHARLESTON A 60-year-old Anderson woman has become the first patient to receive a lung transplant in South Carolina in 14 years.

The (Charleston) Post and Courier reports Evin Evans received new lungs in an operation at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston on March 9.

It was the first lung transplant performed at MUSC since 1997 when the university suspended its transplant program after its main surgeon left. Evans is a goat farmer and doctors say her lungs likely failed because of exposure to the goats.

- The Associated Press

Ex-treasurer’s co-defendant returns to jail

The man who authorities say sold cocaine to former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel has been arrested for failing to complete a court-ordered program.

Court records show a federal judge issued a bench warrant Tuesday for 29-year-old Michael Miller.

Documents show Miller was charged last May with driving under the influence and tested positive for cocaine last July. In December, he was sentenced to time served if he completed a Charleston County jail program.

Miller was released from prison in December 2008 after serving a 10-month sentence for conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine. Ravenel served a similar sentence. Authorities say Miller sold drugs to Ravenel, who shared them with others.

- The Associated Press

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