UPDATE: Upstate teacher’s death ruled homicide following crash in Spartanburg Co., suspect in custody

Accidents & Traffic

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office officials said one person was killed during a crash Wednesday afternoon following an officer-involved chase on E. Blackstock Road.

The sheriff’s office said a deputy was sitting at the intersection of Reidville Road and E. Blackstock Road at about 4 p.m. when when he heard a loud exhaust and squealing tires.

The deputy activated his blue lights and sirens and attempted to stop a black Cadillac, according to the sheriff’s office. The driver of the Cadillac accelerated and started weaving in and out of traffic.

Due to “the driver’s reckless driving and excessive speed, the time of day, the heavy traffic in the area and the approaching school zone,” the deputy stopped his pursuit of the suspect in the area of Paradise Lanes, according to the sheriff’s office.

Around that same time, a South Carolina Highway Patrolman noticed the vehicle near E. Blackstock Road and Hidden Hill Road and activated his blue lights, the sheriff’s office said.

The deputy told the patrolman why he stopped his pursuit of the suspect. The trooper then stopped as well.

“He saw the guy was passing in the median, kicking dirt up, and he said it was too dangerous because it was close to school hours. And he said, ‘I’m just not going to try that,'” Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said.

The deputy and patrolman continued to travel down E. Blackstock Road towards Dawkins Middle School and saw the Cadillac had been involved in a “violent” crash with another vehicle.

The officers attempted to render aid to the other driver while also detaining the suspect.

The coroner’s office said the other driver, Jessica Ruth Munyon, 36, of Moore, died at the scene.

“I heard a loud bang. I thought it was an explosion. That’s exactly what it sounded like,” Lona Clark, who lives nearby, said. “So, I went around the corner, since I live right here, and I saw a portion of a car.”

That was the aftermath of a crash that some say could’ve been avoided.

“I know the guy said, ‘Hey, I’m sorry,’ but that doesn’t bring this mama back, that doesn’t bring this wife back. I mean, these people’s lives have been altered forever,” Sheriff Wright said.

Sheriff Wright told 7 News, had the driver of the car just pulled over, things would be much different.

“He might’ve been out of jail already. He might not have spent but three or four hours in jail on a traffic charge and then he’s back home; but he chose to drive stupidly, and it cost this sweet lady her life,” he said.

Folks who live nearby said this is not the first time a crash like this has happened here.

“We had a resident here who was killed six years ago,” Gale Burgess said. “She was in the turning lane to turn in and somebody hit her in the rear.”

“The speed limit is 40, but nobody goes 40,” Lona Clark added.

They told us they want to see something done to prevent it from happening again.

“We need a traffic light. We need something,” Janis Couch said. “How many people have to get killed before something is done?”

Sheriff Wright said the suspect in the chase has an extensive criminal history, involving drugs and DUI, but he told 7 News he’s praying for him.

“The driver of the Cadillac, the bad guy that ran, he was out trying to do CPR on that poor lady that he hit,” Sheriff Wright said.

“I had a son who was killed in a car accident many years ago–25 years ago–so I know how it changes your life,” Clark said. “Their lives are changed from that moment on. His is also changed, so I pray for both of the families, that God will be with them and give them strength. That’s how you get through something like that.”

Munyon was a teacher at South Carolina Whitmore School. The school released a statement on Thursday:

South Carolina Whitmore School is devastated to learn of the recent passing of our beloved teacher, Jessica Munyon. Jessica joined the school in 2016 and had an incredible impact on the lives of students across South Carolina. Jessica faithfully not only served as a teacher but as a department chair and advisor for ArtMore, an online digital literary and art magazine. She will truly be missed by the entire SC Whitmore School family. Our deepest condolences are with the Munyon family during this difficult time.

SCWS Leadership
Jessica Munyon, who was a teacher at South Carolina Whitmore School, was killed in a crash on East Blackstock Rd. in Spartanburg Wednesday night. (Photo: South Carolina Whitmore School)

The suspect’s name has not been released and no charges have been filed at this time.

The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office said Munyon’s death has been ruled as a homicide.

SLED and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office will continue to investigate due to SCHP and the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office’s involvement.

Click here to read an update to this story.

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