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Update: Bond Denied for Man Charged in DOT Worker's Death

Thomas Lee Stafford, 39, is charged with felony driving under the influence and leaving a scene involving a death.

Updated (3:30 p.m.): A Lexington County judge denied bond on Tuesday afternoon for Thomas Lee Stafford, who is charged with felony driving under the influence and leaving a scene involving a death.

Representatives from the S.C. Highway Patrol said at an afternoon bond hearing that Stafford had two prior DUI arrests and that he was a threat to the community. The victim's family was also there, asking for bond to be denied.

Stafford was not represented by an attorney.

Officials said his prior arrests include a 1999 simple possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine, a 2008 DUI and a 2012 DUI on Nov. 19. He was out on bond on that charge when the Monday crash occurred. 

Stafford was arrested after Good Samaritans at the scene boxed in Stafford's automobile and prevented him from leaving the scene.

Original story: The driver of the vehicle that struck and killed a S.C. Department of Transportation worker has been charged, the S.C. Highway Patrol announced Tuesday. 

Thomas Lee Stafford, 39, of West Columbia is charged with felony driving under the influence and leaving a scene involving a death, Senior Trooper Brent Kelly said. 

Stafford was traveling westbound on Interstate 20 near Bush River when he swerved to the right entering the emergency lane and struck Nicholas Johnson, 21, of Columbia.

Johnson was working in the emergency lane of the interstate when he was struck by the vehicle, Lexington County Coroner Harry Harman said. 

He was pronounced dead at the scene from severe head and body trauma, Harman said.

Johnson was employed by the Department of Transportation since September 2011 in its Richland County maintenance unit, said Peter Poore, DOT's director of communications.

A bond hearing has been set for Stafford at 3 p.m. today at the Lexington County Detention Center. 

Kathy Seymour December 04, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Another "under the influence" Why can't people figure out that dosent' work?
Brushjumper December 04, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Well, the good part of this sad story is this scumbag will be doing about 20-40 at SCDC for sure. Essentially his life is over and he will be eating thousands of bologna sandwiches.
benjamin December 04, 2012 at 06:59 PM
i knew Tom 16 years. I think this will be his 3rd dui. Sad day for both families.
hayley January 09, 2013 at 04:52 PM
at here comes the boom its not a sad day for both family's its a sad day for the johnson's, Thomas shouldnt have done that it will never be a sad day for him he deserves everything he gets!

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