A South Carolina pastor's wife and three of their four children were inside the family's vehicle as it was hit by a suspected drunken driver who killed their father and his friend as they changed a flat tire Saturday night.
State troopers previously told The State that Pastor Brian Kinney Walker, 49, of Bennettsville First Church of the Nazarene was killed in the car accident along with his friend, Andrew Tad Reeser, 45, who was helping to change a tire on the side of Interstate 20 in Richland County at about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, just hours before Father's Day.
Although the driver who caused the crash was not immediately identified, South Carolina Highway Patrol has now identified the suspect as 28-year-old Cornelius Joseph Floyd who was arrested on Sunday. He was charged with two counts of felony DUI and denied bond, local news outlet WISTV reported.
Just over a year earlier in January 2018, Floyd was charged with two counts of attempted murder stemming from a shooting in Lake City and those charges have not yet been resolved. He was also charged with possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, and simple possession of marijuana.
Officials say toxicology results for Floyd stemming from the crash that killed Walker and his friend are pending.
Cpl. Sonny Collins of the South Carolina Highway Patrol explained earlier that a van was parked in the emergency lane of the interstate and a Jeep was parked behind the van. Walker and Reeser were changing a tire on the van when a third vehicle hit the back of the Jeep, pushing it into the van, Collins explained. The men were squashed between the two vehicles.
Reeser was pronounced dead at the scene just before 10:45 p.m., while Walker was pronounced dead at Prisma Health Richland Hospital. Both men died from multiple blunt force injuries.
Three of Walker’s children and his wife were inside the van. The family was on their way to church. None of the children or Walker’s wife suffered serious injuries, the South Carolina Nazarene District said.
“We sometimes don’t understand how these tragic things happen, especially when we think of how tragic things happen to good people. Pastor Brian was a great person. His friend that went to help him, obviously someone who is caring and wanting to do something good to a friend in need, and yet in these particular situations we can only trust that God has a plan,” Samuel Flores, district Superintendent for the South Carolina District Church of the Nazarene, told WISTV.
Audrey Carter, interim pastor of Columbia Grace Church of the Nazarene on Pinestraw Road where Walker pastored for more than 10 years before moving to Bennettsville First Church of the Nazarene, remembered Walker as someone who always saw the good in others.
“Always saw the good in people and tried to bring the good in people and tried to bring the good out of everyone. He was such a great man,” she told WISTV.
Ed Lilly, a friend of Reeser, remembered him as giving and helpful.
“Drew was always giving. He was always willing to be there when things needed to be done and did it with an open heart and with a lot of joy,” Lilly said.
Officials are now warning motorists who experience car trouble on the interstate to try to make to the nearest exit or call the police. Other safety precautions such as safety vests, flashing red lights or reflective triangles were also encouraged.