News from around The Carolinas

October 28, 2012 

South Carolina

Chester

Skydiver dies after ‘hard landing’

An experienced skydiver credited with more than 1,000 jumps out of airplanes died in a Charlotte hospital Sunday after officials say he took a “hard landing” while diving at the Chester Catawba Regional Airport.

Emergency crews and first responders were called to the airport around 10:17 a.m. after receiving a call about a skydiver jumping with Skydive Carolina hitting the ground after a “hard landing,” said Eddie Murphy, director of county emergency management.

Officials transported the man to Chester Regional Medical Center, where he received treatment, Murphy said. He was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center, where he later died. His time of death was not available.

Murphy said that the accident had nothing to do with the plane itself. He was unsure how many other people may have been joining the skydive group Sunday.

Skydive Carolina operates a landing zone at the airport, which was closed when the incident happened.

James La Barrie, general manager for Skydive Carolina, said the man “had a perfectly good parachute.” He stressed that there was no equipment malfunction and the diver was very experienced.

The skydiver deployed his parachute successfully, La Barrie said. The diver was injured while he tried to execute an advanced landing maneuver.

By Sunday evening, Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker said he didn’t receive any notification from officials at CMC about the man’s death and wouldn’t be able to provide his name, age or residence.

At least 11 people have died in skydiving accidents in the United States this year, according to Dropzone, a website that collects statistical data on skydiving fatalities. Hard landings were contributing factors in two of those deaths.

Great Falls

Chester Co. ‘Operation Trick or Treat’ nets 2 more arrests

Two more people were arrested in connection with an undercover Chester County Sheriff’s Office operation targeting accused drug dealers, who deputies hope will provide new information on who may have killed a Great Falls store owner nearly a year ago.

Both Akeem McMullen, 29, and 23-year-old Lamario Lightner were arrested Wednesday, said Sheriff Richard Smith. McMullen is charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Smith said Lightner sold crack cocaine to an undercover source working with deputies. The purchase was captured on video. Deputies issued a warrant for Lightner, but were unable to find him. When Lightner realized he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, Smith said he turned himself into authorities.

Deputies also arrested McMullen after they found 10 bags of marijuana in his right front pants pocket and $136 cash in his left front pants pocket while he was on the 800 block of Chester Avenue, Smith said. Deputies searched McMullen’s house, which he shares with his father, and found another large bag of marijuana in a book bag in McCullen’s bedroom.

They also found other drug paraphernalia in his nightstand, Smith said.

Deputies in August launched Operation Trick or Treat with hopes of fishing out information that might lead them to the person who shot and killed 57-year-old Afreda Wertz Hinson in her home Nov. 28, 2011. Hinson owned the Little Convenience Store on Chester Avenue, alongside her husband.

Officials have exhausted most leads in the unsolved homicide. Two weeks ago, police arrested 22 accused drug dealers in Great Falls. Smith said then that deputies managed to gather new information that may lead to a possible arrest in Hinson’s death, but he would not elaborate on what those leads were.

North Carolina

Smithfield

Man convicted of killing 74-year-old NC widow

A jury is now hearing testimony over whether a man convicted of beating a 74-year-old Smithfield widow to death should get the death penalty.

WRAL-TV reports that a Johnston County jury last week found Matthew Hagert Salentine guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and first-degree robbery.

Patricia Stevens was found dead in her home in 2010, wrapped in a rug. She was the widow of prominent attorney Austin Stevens, who died in 2005.

Salentine lived about a block away and was arrested the day after Patricia Stevens was killed. Salentine’s attorney said his client is bi-polar and was a crack-cocaine addict at the time.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Salentine. That hearing continues this week.

Asheville

Woman charged with stealing from retirement center residents

An employee has been charged with stealing from residents at the Asheville retirement center where she worked.

Asheville police say 58-year-old Judy McCurry of Fletcher was charged Friday with five counts of felony breaking and entering and larceny.

Authorities say McCurry’s arrest comes as part of a long-term investigation into jewelry missing from residents at the Deerfield Retirement Center.

McCurry was released from the Buncombe County jail after posting a $12,500 bond. It wasn’t immediately known if she had an attorney.

From wire reports

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