The driver in a fatal one-vehicle accident on Lady's Island has been released from the hospital and charged with felony DUI, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.
Joseph Leroy Smalls Jr., 29, of St. Helena Island was arrested Tuesday in connection with the wreck that killed his passenger, Ebony Jenkins, 25, of St. Helena, early Saturday.
Smalls had been ordered earlier in the week to report to the Beaufort County Detention Center to serve part of his sentence for criminal domestic violence against Jenkins, according to the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office.
Instead, Smalls remained at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, receiving treatment for serious injuries after he ran off U.S. 21 near Airport Circle. His 1994 Honda Accord struck a utility pole and overturned in the marsh, according to Senior Trooper Hannah Wimberly.
Jenkins was partially ejected from the car and trapped against a mud bank, said Scott Harris of the Lady's Island-St. Helena Fire District. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to county Coroner Ed Allen.
On Tuesday, Smalls was released from the hospital and charged. The Highway Patrol has not received results of a test to determine his blood alcohol content, Wimberly said.
Smalls and Jenkins had lived together, and he was twice arrested on charges of criminal domestic violence against Jenkins, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
On Saturday, Smalls was scheduled to report to the county jail, having been found guilty of hitting Jenkins with his car on St. Helena Island in February, according to court records and Sgt. Robin McIntosh of the Sheriff's Office. McIntosh said Smalls' car pinned Jenkins against a guardrail on U.S. 21 near the Harbor Island Bridge, severely injuring her legs.
Smalls was originally charged with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, according to 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone. At his trial July 22, the judge told the jury it could convict Smalls of either a misdemeanor or a felony, or find him not guilty, Stone said.
The jury convicted him on the lesser charge, and Smalls received the maximum sentence of 30 days in jail, with credit for 21 days served.
Smalls was to serve the remainder of the sentence over the course of several weekends, Stone said.
Charges are still pending in a second criminal domestic violence case involving Jenkins, which occurred April 29, according to McIntosh. Smalls is accused of fighting with her in their home on St. Helena, punching her repeatedly in the face and throwing a lamp at her, McIntosh said.
A funeral service for the 25-year-old Jenkins was held Wednesday at Faith Memorial Baptist Church. Attempts to reach Jenkins' family through their pastor were unsuccessful.
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.
- Passenger killed in marsh wreck on Lady's Island, July 26, 2014