Driver in Fatal 2012 DUI Gets 20 Years

WINNSBORO – A Beaufort man charged with felony DUI for his role in a fatal car crash in 2012 was sentenced to 20 years in prison last week by 6th Circuit Court judge Brian Gibbons.

Ricky Lance Deel, 36, entered guilty pleas on May 6 for felony driving under the influence causing death, reckless homicide and two counts of felony driving under the influence causing great bodily injury. Gibbons sentenced Deel to 20 years for felony DUI causing death, 10 years for reckless homicide and 15 years for each of the felony DUI causing great bodily injury counts, according to the 6th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. The sentences are to run concurrently.

Deel was arrested and charged on Nov. 18, 2012 after the 2000 Saturn he was driving southbound on I-77 in Fairfield County side-swiped a 2010 Dodge Durango carrying a family on vacation from Michigan. One teenager in the Durango was killed and another was paralyzed as a result of the accident, which occurred near the 41 mile marker.

The family, from New Boston, Mich., was traveling southbound in the right-hand lane on I-77 in the Durango when their vehicle was side-swiped at 6:50 p.m. by Deel’s Saturn, which swerved out of the left-hand lane. The Durango overturned and a passenger, 16-year-old James Franklin Williams, was ejected from the vehicle and into the northbound lane. Barkley Ramsey, Fairfield County Coroner, said Williams was then struck and killed by several passing cars. Williams was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision. Shannon Henry, 18, was also ejected from the Durango and left paralyzed as a result of her injuries. Four other passengers and the driver in the Durango were transported to Palmetto Richland Hospital. Ramsey said the family was traveling from Michigan to Florida to embark on a cruise to the Bahamas.

Deel’s blood alcohol level was determined to be .09 percent at the time of the accident, the Solicitor’s Office said. An investigation by the S.C. Highway Patrol revealed that Deel was traveling in excess of 100 MPH at the time of the crash.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Solicitor Riley Maxwell. Deel was represented by Mike Lifsey, Chief Public Defender of the 6th Circuit.

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