Crime & Courts

Man sentenced for high speed collision on Forest Drive that killed a grandfather

Joe Lewis Busby was driving more than double the speed limit before he smashed into a vehicle and killed an 81-year-old grandfather, investigators said.

Thursday at a hearing in a Richland County courtroom, Judge DeAndrea Benjamin sentenced Busby to eight years in prison for the collision on Forest Drive in Forest Acres.

William Carroll, a grandfather and doting husband to his nursing home-bound wife of 60 years, died in the wreck.

In January 2015, after running errands, Carroll’s daughter was driving her father home in her Chevy Tahoe. They drove along an often-congested, commercially busy section of Forest Drive.

Busby sped along the same road in his truck, authorities said. He struck a car turning left out of the Trader Joe’s parking lot and skidded into the opposite lane, slamming into Carroll and his daughter’s vehicle.

Carroll suffered a traumatic brain injury, a crushed right shoulder, broken hips and a broken back. A month later, he died in the hospital of complications from his injuries.

Investigators determined that Busby was driving 77 miles per hour before he hit the first vehicle, according to Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy. The speed limit on the part of Forest Drive where the wreck occurred is 35 miles per hour.

“He could have been going faster before colliding,” Sealy said.

Forest Acres Police Department charged Busby with reckless homicide. After a two day trial prosecuted by the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, a jury found him guilty Thursday.

The prosecution brought others involved in the collision to the stand to testify that Busby caused the crash, according to lead prosecutor Carter Potts.

The 5th Circuit also offered the airbag control module of Busby’s truck as evidence in the courtroom. The module showed Busby’s speed when the collision occurred.

Investigator’s with the South Carolina Highway Patrol testified to the speed of Busby’s vehicle that was determined by their forensic analysis.

The Richland County Public Defender’s Office defended Busby during the trial.

“We asked for a sentence that was commensurate with his actions for that day,” Potts said.

Busby faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Family of Carroll spoke at the sentencing hearing, asking for the maximum sentence. Busby’s family asked the judge for leniency and mercy.

Carroll’s death sparked discussions in Forest Acres about the safety of Forest Drive. His daughter, Anne Reamer, said she was going to make it her “mission in life to make Forest Drive a safer place.”

More than a year after Carroll’s death, the Department of Transportation agreed to put new adaptive or “smart” traffic signals along Forest Drive to address road congestion. Also amid concerns of bringing more vehicles to the area, a company agreed to scale back a large commercial and residential project at the former location of Cardinal Newman School, which is near the site of the collision.

Her father was the “perfect little man,” Reamer said after his death. “He didn’t deserve this.”

David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.