Bryan Christopher Powers, age 36 from Lexington County, was convicted this week by a Lexington County jury of Reckless Vehicular Homicide for causing the death of Mildred Smith, age 81 from Pelion. Chief Administrative Judge Debra R. McCaslin presided over the trial of this case and ultimately sentenced Powers to eight (8) years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Under South Carolina law, Reckless Homicide carries a potential maximum sentence of ten years in prison.
On June 14, 2019, shortly prior to 6 o’clock that evening, a portion of US-178 near Fogle Road in the Pelion area of Lexington County was undergoing some road work to repave the local highway. Two vehicles were stopped by a flagman. Powers, while driving a white in color Chevrolet Silverado, slammed into the rear of the second vehicle, a silver in color Chevrolet Colorado, where Mildred was seated in the rear passenger seat of the vehicle. Mildred sustained blunt force trauma from the collision that resulted in her death. Mildred was declared deceased at the scene of the collision. Mildred’s death occurred just prior to her 82nd birthday.
During the trial, the testimony presented to the jury included the number of warning signs that were posted leading up to the road work. One flagman who witnessed the collision testified that Powers never slowed down prior to the collision. The South Carolina Highway Patrol’s Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team handled the investigation of this case and determined that Powers’ speed at the point of impact was a minimum of sixty-three (63) miles per hour. The investigation revealed that there were no pre-impact skid marks associated with Powers’ vehicle. The 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office investigators conducted follow-up work in this case that was also presented at trial.
During sentencing, members of the victim’s family addressed the court describing that the loss of Mildred has had a profound impact on all of her loved ones.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant Solicitor Todd Wagoner and Assistant Solicitor Jordan Cox. Senior Assistant Solicitor Wagoner following the trial commented that “Powers’ actions were in reckless disregard for the safety of others on our roadway that day. Sadly, Mildred Smith paid the ultimate price for his indifference to the consequences of his actions.”
Powers has a prior criminal history that includes possession of marijuana, two counts of burglary, and domestic violence.