Driver charged in DUI crash that killed DOT worker: "I had no id - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Driver charged in DUI crash that killed DOT worker: "I had no idea"

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) -  The man charged with felony DUI in the death of a Department of Transportation worker on Interstate 20 Monday afternoon says he had no idea the collision occurred.

During a bond hearing Tuesday afternoon, 39-year-old Thomas Stafford of West Columbia told a judge the crash came as a surprise to him. "It scared me," said Stafford in court. "I had no idea"

Stafford, who was out on bond just two weeks after his second DUI charge, said he pulled over a short distance down the interstate after his friends pulled up next to him and told him what happened. Troopers say Stafford was confused because he was drunk.

He is also charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death.

According to a background check, Stafford's first arrest for DUI came in 2009. He was convicted in that case. His second arrest came on November 19 at 2:15 p.m. in Pine Ridge. He was awaiting trial on that charge. 

DPS says Stafford was traveling west on I-20 around 1:35 p.m. Monday afternoon when he swerved to the right into the emergency lane and hit 21-year-old Nicholas Johnson of Columbia. Stafford continued on I-20 until eventually stopping on the side of the road.

Wendy Williams worked with Johnson. She says he was new to the department -- only a year and a half into it. She can't believe he's dead because they were together earlier in the day.

"He took me and another young lady to the Flying J for lunch," said Williams. "We just had soda pop and a pizza."

Williams says the newcomer asked her for advice about career longevity. What she told him now makes her think.

"Be patient," said Williams. "It gets better."

SCDOT says Johnson worked primarily at the Richland County facility.

Stafford was denied bond. He will remain at the Lexington County Detention Center until his next court appearance.

If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.

  • South Carolina news on WIStv.comNEWSMore>>

  • Attorney: California police shot unarmed black man 10 times

    Attorney: California police shot unarmed black man 10 times

    Monday, April 23 2018 10:15 PM EDT2018-04-24 02:15:47 GMT
    Tuesday, April 24 2018 2:19 AM EDT2018-04-24 06:19:33 GMT
    (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP). Lee Merritt, center, leads a news conference, Monday, April 23 2018, in San Bernardino, Calif., announcing a series of lawsuits against the Barstow Police Department regarding the shooting death of Diante "Butchie"...(James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP). Lee Merritt, center, leads a news conference, Monday, April 23 2018, in San Bernardino, Calif., announcing a series of lawsuits against the Barstow Police Department regarding the shooting death of Diante "Butchie"...

    Lawyers for the family of a black man killed by police in a busy Southern California parking lot say an autopsy found he was shot 10 times and died from choking on his own blood as police delayed getting him medical help.

    More >>

    Lawyers for the family of a black man killed by police in a busy Southern California parking lot say an autopsy found he was shot 10 times and died from choking on his own blood as police delayed getting him medical help.

    More >>
  • Former President George H.W. Bush in ICU at Houston hospital

    Former President George H.W. Bush in ICU at Houston hospital

    Monday, April 23 2018 6:52 PM EDT2018-04-23 22:52:47 GMT
    Tuesday, April 24 2018 1:55 AM EDT2018-04-24 05:55:32 GMT
    Former President George H. W. Bush was hospitalized Wednesday, but his condition has steadily improved. (Source: CNN)Former President George H. W. Bush was hospitalized Wednesday, but his condition has steadily improved. (Source: CNN)

    Bush, 93, lost his wife Barbara just last week. The couple was married for 73 years, longer than any other president and first lady in history. 

    More >>

    Bush, 93, lost his wife Barbara just last week. The couple was married for 73 years, longer than any other president and first lady in history. 

    More >>
  • Senators considering a delay for VA confirmation hearing

    Senators considering a delay for VA confirmation hearing

    Monday, April 23 2018 11:35 PM EDT2018-04-24 03:35:40 GMT
    Tuesday, April 24 2018 1:49 AM EDT2018-04-24 05:49:08 GMT
    (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File). FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2018, file photo, White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson speaks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, in Washington. Now it’s Was...(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File). FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2018, file photo, White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson speaks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, in Washington. Now it’s Was...

    Senators discussing plans to delay the confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump's pick to be Veteran Affairs secretary over growing questions about the nominee's ability to manage the government's...

    More >>

    Senators discussing plans to delay the confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump's pick to be Veteran Affairs secretary over growing questions about the nominee's ability to manage the government's second-largest department.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly