A 28-year-old Ridgeland man pleaded guilty this week to a felony DUI hit-and-run that ended in the death of a Bluffton teenager in January, according to a 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office news release.
Christopher Lenning pleaded guilty to felony hit-and-run resulting in death and felony DUI resulting in death and was sentenced to 15 years in prison at the Jasper County Courthouse on Wednesday, according to the Solicitor’s Office.
Caleb Whiteleather, 18, was killed in the head-on collision on S.C. 462 near Dawson Landing, north of Ridgeland, around 8 p.m. Jan. 6. Lenning’s vehicle crossed the center line and struck the vehicle Whiteleather was driving head-on. Whiteleather’s vehicle spun around and landed in a ditch on the side of the road and Lenning left the area.
Whiteleather was a freshman at Winthrop University who had just left his parents’ Bluffton home 35 minutes before the crash to return to school after the holiday break, according to the Solicitor’s Office.
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“The defendant had likely been drinking for at least four hours when the collision occurred,” Administrative Solicitor Patrick Hall said. “When officers finally found Mr. Lenning, he had a blood alcohol content of .113. That’s more than 1 1/2 times the legal limit.”
Lenning’s prior criminal record includes a 2008 conviction of six counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and DUI, according to the Solicitor’s Office.