I-20 accident kills Richland County deputy, injures two others

(Columbia) May 5, 2005 - Authorities have confirmed a Richland County deputy has died in an accident on Interstate 20 eastbound between Highway 378 and Highway One.

Officials say the deputy apparently crossed the cable barrier, causing the accident by hitting an oncoming car in the eastbound lane, which then hit another car. The deputy was driving at just over 60 miles per hour. One of the cars involved was an SUV.

There were apparently multiple explosions which may have come from ammunition, possibly from the deputy's car. Authorities say the ammunition sparked the fire during the crash.

Eastbound traffic on I-20 was shut down for about three hours Wednesday afternoon as the Highway Patrol and MAIT team tried to determine what happened.

Sid Gaulden of the Department of Public Safety says, "The MAIT team will be here as long as it takes to map the scene, try and figure out. To get all the coordinates in, they were flying overhead earlier with the SLED helicopter, videotaping the scene, shooting hundreds of photographs of the scene. They'll take all that back and work on it in the office to try to figure out exactly what happened."

Gaulden says two sheriff's deputies were following a dump truck just before the accident. The deputies had gotten word that a person wanted on an assault charge was driving a dump truck but were not in the process of stopping the truck.

A news release names Richland County Sheriff Deputy Byron "Keith" Cannon, 24, of Irmo as the fatality in the accident.

Prior to starting with the Department in October of 2003, Cannon worked for the South Carolina Department of Probation and Parole. The news release states that his charismatic nature, sincerity toward others and his professionalism led to his promotion to the Community Action Team in Region 3, Northern Richland County.

His mother and fiancé survive Keith.

The Highway Patrol will be out on I-20 on Thursday to reconstruct the accident.

Reported by Jack Kuenzie & Angie Goff with AP
Updated 9:40am by Bryce Mursch