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Jermasha Elexus Shadane Nelson, 25, of Ridgeland was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday for a drunk driving accident that killed a moped driver on his way to work, a press release from the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office says.
She was found guilty of felony driving under the influence by a Beaufort County General Sessions jury.
Gordon Ward, Sr., of Gray’s Hill, was traveling north on U.S. 21 near Detour Road at about 5:30 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2016 when struck from behind by Nelson’s 2015 Toyota Camry. The 54-year-old man was known for making people smile, dance and open up.
Collision data collected by South Carolina highway patrol troopers showed Nelson’s vehicle topped 110 mph before the crash.
“Nelson barely lifted her foot off the accelerator before striking Ward’s moped,” the release says.
Firefighters at first could not find Ward, but eventually discovered his body in the highway’s grassy median using thermal imaging equipment, a Burton Fire District spokesman previously told The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.
A Beaufort Memorial Hospital physician’s assistant testified Nelson was under the influence of alcohol based on “her charting and the labs that were drawn,” the release says.
A trooper and the initial 911 caller also testified.
During the 911 call, played at the trial, the caller referred to Nelson as “drunk” and told the dispatcher she could smell alcohol on her.
A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for less than two hours before returning with a guilty verdict, the release says. It also says Circuit Court Judge Carmen Muller handed down the sentence.
Ward was married with a son, daughter and two step-daughters. He sang in multiple church choirs, was an in-home nurse for Comfort Keepers and a server at Golden Corral.