During a touching beach tribute Saturday, a South Carolina groom whose wife was killed by an alleged drunk driver, participated in a gathering to pay tribute to the bride, Samantha Hutchinson, 34.
Aric Hutchinson, 36, who sustained a brain injury and broken bones in a crash on April 28 just moments after his wedding reception in Folly Beach, attended the emotional ceremony surrounded around a hundred others, Live News 5 reports.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Samantha was pronounced dead shortly after 10 p.m. She left her wedding reception in an LSV (low-speed vehicle) with the groom when an alleged drunk driver, identified as Jamie Lee Komoroski, smashed into them in the 1200 block of E. Ashley Avenue.
Initial reports indicated that the couple was on a golf cart when the incident happened, but police confirmed they were on an LSV, which is similar to a golf cart but legal to drive on roads.
Among those attending Saturday’s vigil included mourners who paddled out to the ocean to release flowers with “Sam” written on them, at the same beach where the couple got married.
According to Aric, his late wife was a “beach girl.” He said the event served as a proper “send-off” for her, and he was convinced that she was smiling down on them.
“This is Sam. I mean, she’s a beach girl, through and through,” Hutchinson said. “We do walk here almost every morning, and this is her send-off for sure. She’s up there smiling for sure.”
Sitting on the shoreline in a wheelchair, Aric said he was recovering, albeit slowly, from the brain injury and multiple broken bones he sustained in the accident.
Despite his condition, he felt good, he said, adding that he believed that his wife would have been honored by the ceremony.
“My body’s getting back to where I can manage, I guess. It’s just as good as I can feel with the situation, but obviously, today and the outpouring of people was just amazing. I know Sam would love it.”
Meanwhile, Komoroski hired two prominent lawyers, Nathan S. Williams and Christopher S. Gramiccioni, to represent her in her legal proceedings. The lawyers reportedly said they want the public to refrain from hastily passing judgment on the situation.
According to an arrest affidavit, Komoroski became “uncooperative” with police; she claimed she was not drunk and had a beer and one shot of tequila around an hour before the crash. A responding officer, however, noted that Komoroski had trouble standing and smelled of alcohol.
Komoroski also “strongly refused” a field sobriety test. Police arrested her and subsequently obtained a blood test. The test revealed that she was over three times over the legal limit, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), CNN reports.
The incident happened on a “tight road squeezed by houses, businesses, parked cars,” according to the Courier, that’s “nearly lightless” at night.
Director of the Folly Beach Public Safety Department, Andrew Gilreath, said he has visited the site multiple after he was called out to the crash scene on the night of the incident.
“One of the things for me that was so eye-opening about the situation was in public safety, you try to mentally insulate yourself from what you’re seeing and dealing with,” he said.
“I went home that night and was talking to my wife about what happened and she was visibly upset. I remember thinking, ‘She wasn’t even there and she’s visibly upset about it.’ It really is such a big deal. It’s a tragedy. For nonsense. For no reason.”
Gilreath added that the LSV was legal to drive and had its light on when struck.
Komoroski is facing a negligent homicide and DUI involving death. Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Hutchinson couple/Handout]