Driver charged in crash that injured child had previous DUI convictions
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A driver charged with DUI after a crash that injured a 3-year-old has previous convictions for diving under the influence.
Lonnie Gross III was charged after the Friday night crash that severely injured the grandnephew of Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins.
Sgt. Bob Beres with the South Carolina Highway Patrol said the crash happened around 10 p.m. on North Springs Road when Gross was driving left of center and collided with Latoya Jenkins and her son, Josiah.
Josiah was transported to the hospital and is currently on life support, Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said. The boy's mother is Chief Jenkins' niece.
"It's pretty significant injuries," Jenkins said. "A lot of it is obviously, to the head. We're just unsure because they have not had an opportunity to do a full scan on him because of his injuries, so we're just kind of waiting and see at this point he's really not responsive."
Latoya was not seriously injured.
Jenkins said Josiah received an award at school and Latoya was going out to pick up pizza to celebrate when the crash happened.
"He was a special kid," Jenkins said. "He loves people and he loved to get his mother's phone and as smart as was, he would get his mother's phone and click on Bible verses."
Jenkins said Columbia firefighters responded to the crash and called him to say his grandnephew was being taken to Palmetto Health Children's Hospital.
"You're always feeling sorry for the victim, but now I find myself, it's not only just the victim but it's family," Jenkins said. "And I guess that kind of raise the stakes a little bit. Although, I feel for other victims just as much as I feel for my nephew but it's kind of a surreal thing."
Gross was transported to a hospital to be checked out and then transported to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and charged with felony driving under the influence, Beres said.
A judge denied bond for Gross Saturday morning, Jenkins said.
An arrest record requested of SLED shows Gross has been out on bond for a DUI arrest in November 2013. He was convicted of DUI for arrests in 2007, 2000, 1999 and 1993 and was charged, but not convicted of DUI in 1997.
"He was remorseful," said Jenkins, who was at Gross' bond hearing. "He apologized and to be honest with you, I realize that it's a tragic situation, but I was even feeling sorry for him because of the situation he's in now. You don't rejoice in people's calamity."
Jenkins said those who drink and drive should think of how that could hurt someone else's loved ones.
"This can happen to anybody," he said. "Nobody is exempt from an accident happening. Nobody. I just want to encourage people, if you're going to drink, do not drive because you don't know, that next victim might be somebody that you know, that you're close to, that you love. So, do not drink and drive, it's just not worth it."
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