On March 22, a horrific car crash claimed the lives of two people and seriously injured two others on SC 110 just outside Cowpens.
According to investigators, as 19-year-old Austin Shackleford attempted to speed away from a pursuing police car, he crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a car driven by 43-year-old Tanya Tiede of Spartanburg, carrying her mother, husband, and 11-year-old daughter. According to the Solicitor, Shackleford admitted to detectives he had consumed a half pint of rum, marijuana, and other drugs the night of the fatal DUI crash.
Mrs. Tiede passed away almost instantly, while her other family members were taken to the hospital for their injuries. Her mother passed away from her injuries two days later.
The Victims’ Legal Rights
The victims and their families should be everyone’s first concern. They have rights in both the criminal justice system and the civil justice system. While the justice system cannot undo their devastating loss and injury, here’s what it can do:
The South Carolina Victim’s Bill of Rights includes the rights to:
- Be notified of and make a statement at any bond hearing.
- Be present at any court proceeding where Shacklford has the right to be there, including a trial or guilty plea.
- Be notified of and make a statement at sentencing about what they’ve been through and the sentence they would like him to get, if Shackleford is convicted at trial or pleads guilty.
- Meet with the Solicitor before trial or before any decision is made how to dispose of the case—and be informed of how it will be disposed.
Families of the victims who passed away can seek compensation for wrongful death against Shackelford’s auto insurance company, plus any underinsurance the victims may have had on their own cars. The survivors can make claims against the same insurance companies for their injuries.
What Shackelford Is Facing
As a result of this deadly Cherokee County DUI crash, Shackelford faces some of the heaviest sentences under South Carolina law. Charges for Mrs. Tiede’s mother got upgraded when she passed away, and the investigation continues, so the charges could still change. This is currently what I expect his maximum potential punishment to be, unless more or different charges are filed:
- Felony DUI causing Death, 2 counts. Each count carries up to 25 years, so he faces up to 50 years.
- Felony DUI causing Great Bodily Injury, 2 counts. Each count carries up to 15 years, so he faces another 30 years.
- Failure to Stop for a Blue Light Resulting in Death. Each count carries up to 25 years, so if charged for both deaths, he faces another 50 years.
- Failure to Stop for a Blue Light Resulting in Great Bodily Injury, 2 counts. Each count carries up to another 10 years, so if charged for both injured people, he faces another 20 years.
Shackleford told a judge at his bond hearing he was sorry and that he would trade places with Mrs. Tiede. He cried when the Solicitor read the survivors’ injuries.
At Holland & Usry, we’ve been on both sides of this case before. We’ve helped DUI crash victims recover for their injuries. In another case, we helped a lady who pled guilty to felony DUI with injuries make sure the victims and the judge knew she’d worked hard since the crash to turn her life around. Regardless which side you’re on, a felony DUI is a case where there are no easy answers and there are no winners. The best thing anybody can do is look out for the victims first.