Entries in South Carolina (20)


Hurricane Irene Pounds Bahamas, Continues to Strengthen

NOAA/National Weather Service/National Hurricane CenterUPDATE: Hurricane Irene has been upgraded to a category 3 hurricane.

(MIAMI) -- Hurricane Irene is pounding the Southeastern Bahamas Wednesday morning and mustering strength as it continues on its projected path towards the Southern East Coast of the United States.

The storm is forecast to hit the Carolinas later this week, and by that time it may be a major hurricane.

Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami, says Irene's "maximum sustained winds are now 110 miles per hour with higher gusts," making the storm a "strong category 2 hurricane."  But that is expected to change.

"We do expect it to strengthen into a category 3 sometime today [Wednesday]," he says.

Feltgen advises residents along the Eastern coastline, "from South Carolina all the way up to Maine," to pay close attention to Irene.

He warns, "This is a large storm so even if the storm remained well off-shore we could possibly see some heavy rain and strong rains along the coastal sections of the mid-Atlantic states all the way up into New England."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Irene Projected to Strengthen, Head Towards the Carolinas

Ron Garan/NASA(MIAMI) -- It has been three years since an Atlantic hurricane has hit the United States, but that is all about to change as Hurricane Irene continues to gather strength and makes it way towards the nation's southern East Coast.

Now a category 2 hurricane, Irene is lashing the northern coast of the Dominican Republic Tuesday morning with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour.

Later Tuesday, "it's expected to move over the Turks and Caicos Islands near the southeast Bahamas," said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

But the biggest threat from Irene may come later in the week when the storm is projected to hit North and South Carolina, possibly as a category 3 or 4 hurricane.

"We are urging residents all along the extreme southeastern coast of the United States to be very -- to be paying very close attention to this storm.  Folks in the Carolinas right now have the threat of a landfalling major hurricane here as we get into the weekend," Feltgen said.

He said that, according to models, Irene will "be curving more to the northwest than the north," and "it's impact on Florida will be to parallel the coast."

Feltgen advises those in the Carolinas to make sure they have all of their hurricane plans and supplies in place.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Seven Dead, Thousands Without Power After Storms Hit Southeast

WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham, NC(HOPKINSVILLE, Ky.) -- Powerful and fast-moving storms powered through the South Monday night, bringing high winds, hail and lightning with them. At least seven people were killed, while several hundred thousand woke up Tuesday without power. Within just one 10-minute period, there were 1,500 lightning strikes, causing three fires in Georgia.

The storms were part of a system that cut a wide swath from the Mississippi River across the southeast to Georgia and the Carolinas on Monday and early Tuesday, marching eastward.

At a factory in Hopkinsville, Ky., a tornado sent seven workers to the hospital after it tore through a wall.

At least 20 tornadoes touched down overnight following warnings that were put out in 10 states.

The storms continued to move across the Carolinas early Tuesday morning, still packing enough punch to knock down trees and damage power lines. Parts of states further north, including Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia also reported power outages.

Accuweather meteorologist Tom Kines told ABC News he thinks this storm has largely passed. It currently presents a threat to southern Florida, but it is no longer the angry beast that swept through so much of the country.

Trouble is brewing in the Northwest however, as a cold front moves into that sector in the next 24 hours, bringing unusually cold temperatures. Kines said the system could mix with warmer Gulf air in the plains states, threatening the South with more severe weather this weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Vigil Held for South Carolina Boy Killed in Amusement Park Crash

ABC News(SPARTANBURG, S.C.) -- A candlelight vigil was held in South Carolina Tuesday night to remember Benjamin Easler, the six-year-old boy who was killed in an accident at an amusement park a few days before.

Hundreds attended the memorial service in Spartanburg, including Rodney Morrison, one of the 18 people injured in the crash.

"I was only on the floor for like a minute or something," said Morrison, describing the accident.  "And I stood up and looked around and I saw people all over the place on the floor and stuff.  It was crazy."

On Saturday, Easler, Morrison and 26 other passengers -- ranging in age from three to 54 -- were aboard a children's train ride at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg when the train derailed and crashed.  Matt Conrad, the driver of the "Sparky" ride, later told police he had been driving too fast at the time of the accident.

Easler, who was visiting the amusement park with a group from Corinth Baptist Church, where his father is a pastor, was the only person killed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Driver of Deadly Children's Train Ride: I Was Going Too Fast

WLOS-TV Asheville, N.C.(SPARTANBURG, S.C.) -- The driver of a children's train ride told police he was driving too fast prior to Saturday's accident at a South Carolina park that left a six-year-old boy dead and sent 18 people to the hospital.

A child captured the fatal accident on video, recording the harrowing moments when the train, carrying 28 people, flew off the tracks. The video, obtained exclusively by ABC News, was shot by a child on board the "Sparky" ride at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg, S.C., and shows the train speeding up moments before Saturday's accident.

"I was going too [expletive] fast," driver Matt Conrad told police, according to an incident report. Conrad told cops "he knew better than to drive the train that fast."

There were 28 passengers on the train when it derailed, including children and adults ranging between the ages of 3 to 54, according to police.

Benji Easler, 6, was visiting the park with a group from Corinth Baptist Church, where his father, Dwight Easler is pastor, when he was killed in the accident.

The train had operated at the park for more than 50 years and had run several test laps the morning of the accident. Meanwhile, a state inspector came forward Monday to admit that he had falsified the ride's latest safety report, saying he ran the train March 16 when it actually had a dead battery. The inspector was fired.

Police said Tuesday that they had not completed their investigation and had not concluded that Conrad's driving was to blame for the incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Navy Sailor Faces Discharge for Falling Asleep With Another Man

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- A Navy petty officer facing discharge for falling asleep in bed with another male sailor last month says his ouster is motivated by homophobia, not a legitimate crime, a claim that has some gay rights advocates worried about life after "don't ask don't tell."

Stephen Jones, 21, a student at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Charleston, South Carolina, says he and friend Brian McGee inadvertently fell asleep together while watching the Vampire Diaries on a computer in his quarters Feb. 6.

Jones was wearing pajama pants and a white t-shirt, laying on top of the covers; McGee was in boxer shorts under the blanket on Jones' twin bed, according to both men's account of the situation.

When Jones' roommate, Tyler Berube, walked in shortly after midnight, the sailors woke up, got dressed and went back to their rooms.  Several days later, however, Jones and McGee were cited with dereliction of duty for "willfully failing to exhibit professional conduct in his room," according to the Navy report specifying the charges.

McGee accepted the charge and received docked pay.  But when Jones refused to accept a penalty, instead hoping for a court martial to prove his innocence, he was ordered separated from the Navy for good.

While there was no evidence of homosexual conduct presented in the statements given by the three men to military investigators, Jones and his civilian attorney Gary Meyers believe homophobic suspicions were motivation for the charge.

"The roommate is concerned about what he sees, even though he sees nothing," Meyers said.  "And his statement doesn't indicate he saw anything.  Two men woke up and they left the room.  It's a bizarre overreaction."

Meyers contends that because the command had too little evidence to start an investigation under "don't ask, don't tell," which is still technically military policy, it used a subterfuge to achieve the same result.

"I asked several times about what was unprofessional about what I did, and every time they said it's just unprofessional.  Period," said Jones, who is appealing the decision.

"Guys are always playing video games, watching movies, in other people's quarters," Jones said.  "Brian and I hung out on a regular basis.  Curfew was 2 a.m.  We woke up between 12 and 12:30, and were back in our rooms before 1.  I have never been in trouble ever in all of my life."

A copy of the Navy's investigative report confirms that Berube discovered the two men asleep in bed, well before the 2 a.m. curfew Feb. 6, but does not detail how Jones or McGee may have exhibited unprofessional behavior.

A spokesman for the Naval Nuclear Training Command did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment but told the Washington Post, which first reported on the case, that "the determination was that two sailors sharing the same rack was unprofessional."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


South Carolina Legislators Try to Circumvent Lightbulb Law  

Photo Courtesy - Photodisc(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- A bill entering the South Carolina legislature proposes the state exclusively make and sell incandescent light bulbs.

The federal government created a nationwide phase-out of incandescent bulbs in favor of energy-saving fluorescent bulbs. However, a growing number of critics are decrying the bulbs, calling them expensive, ugly, and dangerous: experts have proven the bulbs release hazardous chemicals when broken.

The South Carolina proposal would sidestep the federal law if the bulbs were produced entirely in South Carolina, not using raw materials from other states. State lawmakers advocating the bill claim it would improve the economy, since the bulb-manufacturing center would create jobs.    

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Challenger Astronaut Ronald E. McNair's Legacy Honored

Photo Courtesy - NASA/ABC News(LAKE CITY, S.C.) -- Twenty five years ago the nation watched in horror as the space shuttle Challenger exploded in the air, creating a massive fireball just 73 seconds after launch from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. The tragedy shook the entire world and prompted NASA to evaluate its shuttle program and review the future of space travel. All seven astronauts on board were killed.

Among the crew members was Ronald E. McNair. A physicist recognized nationally for his work in the field of laser physics who was also notable for being the second African American to fly in space, McNair broke barriers since his childhood in the small community of Lake City, South Carolina. He grew up in the farming town that's located about 90 miles north of Charleston.

In 1959, when McNair was just nine years old, he famously made a scene at the Lake City Public Library. Residents stared the African American boy down and watched as he walked to the main counter and attempted to check out books on advanced science and calculus. The librarian refused to release them and told him, "We don't circulate books to Negroes." The passionate young man wouldn't budge, and instead hoisted himself onto the counter and said he wasn't leaving without the books.

Today, more than 20 schools around the country, several monuments, and the main highway through the town of Lake City are named after Ronald McNair.

His legacy is now being honored in a weeklong celebration which includes a parade, candlelit vigil, and banquet. Perhaps the most important of the week's events was the opening of the building where over a half-century ago a brave nine-year-old boy refused to leave without checking out books.

The Lake City Public Library building has been restored and was introduced on Saturday as the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Life History Center. The former library is equipped for community gatherings and classroom visits, and the center's walls feature highlights from McNair's life in Lake City and career with NASA.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


South Carolina Secession Draws Debate 150 Years Later

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- It's been 150 years since South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union ahead of Civil War, and Monday the legacy of that watershed moment in American history remains a flashpoint for debate.

Organizers say the "Secession Gala" in Charleston Monday night was to commemorate the event as a show of courage in the face of encroachment by the federal government on state's rights. But some historians and civil rights groups are protesting the event as the glorification of a defense of slavery.

Dozens of Civil War buffs and Confederate reenactors are expected to attend the $100-a-head event, where they will sip mint juleps, nibble on Carolina crab dip and mingle to the tune of "Dixie" in the presence of the state's original Ordinance of Secession, signed in 1860.

Some participants will reenact scenes from the secession convention, according to the program posted on the event website.

"We are commemorating the lives of 170 men of South Carolina in the same fashion that today we celebrate the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence -- that was a secession document from the crown of Great Britain," said Mark Simpson, South Carolina division commander of Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group sponsoring the gala.

"These 170 signers in South Carolina, at the risk of their lives said, 'We are doing what we believe we must do to determine our future.'" Simpson said the spirit of his Confederate forefathers deserves recognition and is still evident in southern politics and culture today.

But during the lead up to the Civil War, historians argue, states' rights meant the ability to preserve the institution of slavery from federal government attempts to bring it to an end. And some say any attempt to separate the issue of state autonomy from the specter of slavery is historical revisionism.

"Slavery was the principal cause of the Civil War, period," said Bob Sutton, chief historian for the National Park Service. "Yes, politics was important. Yes, economics were important. Yes, social issues were important. But when you get to the core of why all these things were important, it was slavery."

The South Carolina chapter of the NAACP planned to hold a silent protest and vigil outside Monday night's gala.

The state of South Carolina marked Monday's anniversary by unveiling a new historical marker in downtown Charleston at the site where delegates signed the original Ordinance of Secession.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


Confederate Flag Draws Criticism, Protests

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SUMMERVILLE, S.C.) -- Residents of a predominantly black South Carolina neighborhood marched this weekend to protest the display of a confederate flag outside an area home.

The flag, which hangs outside the residence of Annie Caddell, a white woman, drew criticism from the crowd who says it represents Civil War-era sentiments of racism and slavery.

Nearly 80 residents of Summerville, S.C., protested the display.

On the opposite side was a group of approximately 15 of Caddell's supporters who gathered in front of her home with confederate battle flags.

The woman, who has the legal right to display the flag, has refused to take it down, calling it a symbol of her heritage.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Page 1 2

ABC News Radio