Lexington man dies days after wife following motorcycle crash with deer, coroner says

Days after his wife was killed in a motorcycle crash, a Lexington man died Wednesday from the injuries he sustained in the same wreck, the Lexington County Coroner’s Office said.

James Derek Payne, 54, died in an area hospital, four days after his wife Ruth Hunt Payne was killed at the scene of the collision, Coroner Margaret Fisher said in a news release.

“This morning at 6:02 a.m. Derek Payne has gone to be with Ruth,” Cherry Dudney posted on Facebook.

On Oct. 5, the couple was riding a 2019 Harley-Davidson motorcycle on U.S. 378 when they smashed into a deer that had run into the road, said Cpl. Sonny Collins of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

James Derek Payne was driving the motorcycle, and both he and his 53-year-old wife were wearing helmets when they hit the deer at about 11:30 a.m., Collins said.

The collision was investigated by Highway Patrol.

“Heaven gained another beautiful soul this morning,” Stacy Minikiewicz Clark said in a Facebook post. “Derek Payne went to be with his Heavenly father and his beautiful and precious wife, Ruth Hunt Payne.”

Dudney started an online fundraiser to help pay for the couple’s funeral expenses.

“The family thanks (everyone) for their love and prayers and continued support,” Dudney wrote on the fundraiser.

James Derek Payne was the owner of DEREK PAYNE Trucking, according to the Garden City, Georgia’s Facebook page.

In addition to an August post with picture of the motorcycle he called the couple’s “new toy,” James Derek Payne wrote a touching anniversary message to his wife on his Facebook page less than a month ago.

“Want to say that 9 years ago I had no idea that I would meet the woman that would steal my heart,” the post said. “Over these past years we have had some great times and some not so great but I am still so much in love with this woman it hurts to spend a moment without her in by my side. Ruth, I love you with all my heart and my plan is to continue to fall in love with you more and more as we spend our lives together. You mean the world to me. I Love You. Happy anniversary.”

This is a developing story, check back for updates.


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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.