Charmaine Anthony Warthern — killed in a hit-and-run accident Tuesday in Bluffton — was a father of two, a brother who helped raise younger siblings and a longtime manager at the Bonefish Grill on Hilton Head Island.
“He motivated you to be somebody,” Warthern’s sister Dontaria Hollice said.
From the time he was 10 years old Warthern worked odd jobs in the neighborhood and at grocery stores to help support his five younger siblings, Hollice said.
Warthern, 43, of Bluffton never lost his desire to work and help others, she said. Co-workers at Bonefish Grill on Hilton Head agreed.
Will Neeley worked as Warthern’s assistant manager for two years at the seafood restaurant. He says the two quickly became friends and in tough times, Neeley knew he could turn to Warthern for support.
On Wednesday, it was hard for Neeley to accept that his friend was gone.
“I was just praying it wasn’t him,” he said.
Long after Warthern left his Florida hometown in Palm Beach County on a college scholarship, he continued to send money to help his mother and siblings, Hollice said.
“You could ask anyone from South Florida to Bluffton — he was a great person,” she said. “He would have met you, and you would have been friends instantly, and he would put a smile on your face.”
Warthern was someone everyone at Bonefish Grill respected, Neeley said.
“He always kept his cool,” he said. “If I was losing my mind, he was keeping me and himself cool.”
Richard Toombs Jr., Warthern’s younger brother, was struggling to consider a world that no longer held his role model Wednesday.
“If you needed him, he was there,” Toombs said. “He is going to be missed for the rest of my life. This is a major loss. It is a big loss.”
The Bluffton Police Department said in a press release that Warthern was struck by a vehicle on Buckwalter Parkway at about 10 p.m. Tuesday.
The family has disputed that Warthern was in the road per conversations with a witness at the scene.