A 27-year-old Ridgeland man faces felony charges of drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident following a Friday evening crash that claimed the life of a Bluffton teenager and left two other people injured.
Christopher Lenning, 27, faces charges of felony DUI resulting in death, leaving the scene of an accident and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injuries, South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Matt Southern said Monday morning.
Lenning was detained at Jasper County Detention Center just after 4 a.m. Saturday, according to administrative clerk Rebecca Murphy. Lenning is still being held there and was denied bond in Jasper County court on Sunday morning, Southern said.
Bluffton 18-year-old Caleb Whiteleather was killed around 8 p.m. Friday on S.C. 462 near Ridgeland.
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Lenning was driving a pickup truck that crossed the center line and struck Whiteleather’s car head-on, according to South Carolina Highway Patrol Cpl. Sonny Collins.
Whiteleather died at the scene from his injuries, Jasper County Coroner Martin Sauls III said
Two adult male passengers in Lenning’s truck, ages 25 and 44, suffered incapacitating injuries and were taken to an area hospital, Southern said. Lenning sustained non-incapacitating injuries and reportedly fled the scene.
The crash is still under investigation by the highway patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, Southern said.
Friends loved to be around teen
Whiteleather was a quiet young man with a big personality, LowCountry Community Church High School and College Pastor Rob Jacobs said on Monday morning.
Always the tallest kid in his grade, Whiteleather was a “quintessential lead-by-example kind of student,” Jacobs said.
Since middle school, Whiteleather and his mom had been actively involved in programs, groups, activities and mission trips through the church, Jacobs said.
“People loved to be around him,” Jacobs said. “He didn’t have to say a lot. He had a knack for making people laugh.” Whiteleather had a way of delivering a punchline quietly — and without much inflection — that never failed to make a room erupt with laughter.
“You’ve got to focus on a life well-lived,” the pastor said, offering advice to anyone mourning Whiteleather. “Live like today could be your last, like he did.”