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The Indian Land man charged in a fatal wreck last year on Harrisburg Road will spend five years in prison.
William Justin Rigsbee, 28, received the five-year sentence during a General Sessions court hearing April 15 at the Lancaster County Courthouse. Circuit Court Judge J. Ernest Kinard Jr. presided.
On Jan. 8, 2012, Rigsbee was driving a Chevrolet truck east on Harrisburg Road when he lost control and ran off the right side of the road, according to a media release from the 6th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
The truck hit an embankment and overturned. The passenger – Steven Lee Jones, 36 – was ejected and later died at Carolinas Medical Center in Pineville. According to the S.C. Highway Patrol, Jones was not wearing a seat belt.
“A witness told investigators Rigsbee passed her on double yellow lines at a high rate of speed just before the collision,” the release said. “The witness and her young daughter came upon the collision scene shortly afterward.”
A few days after the accident, that witness, Michelle Alanis of Indian Land, told The Lancaster News and Carolina Gateway that Rigsbee was “obviously drunk.”
“He (Rigsbee) passed me and it looked like he was doing 100 mph,” Alanis said at the time. “I thought, ‘he’s going to have an accident.’ Sure enough, I came around a curve down the road and there was the truck upside down.”
Rigsbee was treated for his injuries at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte.
The investigating Highway Patrol trooper also said Rigsbee appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, the release said. Toxicology tests showed Rigsbee had a blood alcohol content of .097. The state’s legal limit is .08.
“Marijuana was also detected in his blood,” the release said.
The Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team reconstructed the collision and determined Rigsbee was traveling 71 mph just before the air bags deployed. The speed limit was 40 mph.
Rigsbee, whose last listed address is 3098 Sterling Court, was initially charged with felony driving under the influence causing death. However, 6th Solicitor Doug Barfield and Jones’ family reached an agreement with Rigsbee for him to plead guilty to reckless homicide.
Rigsbee was represented by attorney Jim Morton of Rock Hill.
In 2003, Rigsbee, then 19, pleaded guilty in Mecklenburg County to misdemeanor driving after consumption and two counts of resisting an officer.
Rigsbee received a prayer for judgement, which allows the charges to stay on a person’s North Carolina traffic record, but assesses no penalty other than court costs.
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152