LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — A West Columbia man charged with felony DUI in the death of a highway maintenance worker along I-20 has a history of drunken driving charges.
Thomas Lee Stafford, 39, was charged Monday with felony DUI and leaving the scene of an accident involving death, said Lance Cpl. Brent Kelly of the S.C. Highway Patrol. Stafford is accused of hitting and killing 21-year-old Nicholas Johnson, a highway maintenance worker for the S.C. Department of Transportation.
A Lexington County magistrate denied bond for Stafford during a Tuesday hearing. He is being held in the Lexington County Detention Center.
Two weeks ago, Stafford was arrested by the Pine Ridge Police Department on his second driving under the influence charge, according to his rap sheet provided by State Law Enforcement Division and records at the Lexington County Clerk of Courts Office.
Staffords first DUI charge came in July 2008 when he was arrested by the Lexington County Police Department. He was convicted of that charge, according to his rap sheet. He also was arrested on an open container charge in 1998 and later convicted.
Police said Stafford was driving west on I-20 in Lexington County about 1:35 p.m. Monday when he allegedly swerved into the emergency lane and struck Johnson.
Johnson was part of a three-man crew picking up debris on the interstate, said Pete Poore, a DOT spokesman. Johnson had been employed as a maintenance worker in Richland Countys DOT office since September 2011, Poore said.
A safety investigation of the accident will be conducted and the results will be sent to the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Poore said.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.