Driver of vehicle that hit, critically injured teen walking to bus stop in Greenville ID’d, charged


GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Greenville Police Department officials said the driver of a vehicle that reportedly hit a 13-year-old and leaving him critically injured following a road rage incident last week has been charged.

We reported earlier that the teen was hit by a Chrysler PT Cruiser on North Pleasantburg Drive on Sept. 18.

The teen was reportedly walking with his 8-year-old sister to the bus stop before walking to his school, League Academy, at the time of the crash.

During a news conference Friday morning, Greenville Police Traffic Division Lt. Alan Johnson said Norman Earl Gardner, Jr., 56, of Taylors, was arrested and charged with reckless driving on Tuesday.

“At one point during the incident the PT Cruiser got behind the sedan in the middle lane and then quickly changed lanes to the left to quickly pass the sedan,” said Johnson.

Johnson said on Sept. 18 that dispatchers received several 911 calls around 7 a.m. in regard to a crash with injuries on North Pleasantburg Drive near Mallory Street.

Rula Shalabi lives in the area and saw the aftermath of the crash.

“We heard some screaming and a loud crash and within a couple seconds our power went out,” said Shalabi. “Then I saw a child running across my parent’s yard at the same time two electricity poles were going down.”

Greenville City Fire, Greenville County EMS, police and the department’s collision reconstruction team responded to the crash.

Johnson said prior to first responders arriving on-scene, a good samaritan had started performing life-saving measures on the teen boy.

“We’re not sure if what he did made a difference but i could tell you in my eyes I think it did,” said Johnson.

“The team quickly learned that the PT Cruiser, driven by 56-year-old Norman Earl Gardner, Jr. and another vehicle, reportedly a silver sedan, appeared to have been involved in some type of road rage incident just prior to the vehicle collision,” Johnson said. “These aggressive actions contributed to Mr. Gardner, who was in control of his vehicle, in crossing two southbound lanes of traffic on North Pleasantburg Drive.”

“Mr. Gardner’s vehicle then struck the curb, causing it to go on the sidewalk, striking the 13-year-old victim. Mr. Gardner’s vehicle continued across the sidewalk and hit a telephone poll,snapping it in half,” he said.

Johnson said the traffic reconstruction unit determined that Gardner was traveling approximately 75 mph in a 45 mph zone during rush hour traffic.

The other vehicle involved in the road rage incident was a silver sedan.

The driver of the sedan later contacted investigators after hearing media reports from his co-workers.

“Our investigators interviewed him and conducted an inspection of his vehicle,” Johnson said. “The driver fully cooperated with the investigation and provided critical missing pieces of the events. From this, investigators determined that the driver observed Gardner’s PT Cruiser lose control and collide with the curb. The driver of the sedan did not see or know at the time that the PT Cruiser hit the 13-year-old victim and telephone pole.”

Johnson said a vehicle inspection was performed on the silver sedan, which revealed no damage and therefore they determined that he made no contact with the PT Cruiser.

According to Johnson, Gardner’s PT Cruiser had reportedly cut off the silver sedan while attempting to get in the left turn lane on Rutherford Road just before North Pleasantburg Drive.

The driver of the sedan honked at Gardner’s vehicle and both vehicles then turned left onto North Pleasantburg Drive.

Gardner then allegedly started driving aggressively prior to losing control of his vehicle, which resulted in him hitting the curb and hitting the teen.

We reported earlier that he was taken to an area hospital for treatment of non life-threatening injuries, was released and then booked into the Greenville County Detention Center.

Johnson identified the 13-year-old boy as Welfred HallenS, who remains in the hospital in critical condition.

“An injury to his brain, to include bleeding. broken back, pelvis, wrist and both knee caps,” said Johnson.

He was later released from the detention center after posting bond on Sept. 25.

Gardner was scheduled to appear in Greenville Municipal Court on Oct. 17 at 10 a.m.

Johnson said the teen boy, identified as Welfred Hallens, remains in critical condition at an area hospital.

Following the crash, Johnson said Hallens received “an injury to his brain to include bleeding, broken back, pelvis, wrist and both kneecaps. He also sustained multiple fractured bones in his neck and has cracked ribs. There is no exact time on when he will be discharged, but doctors say Welfred’s recovery time is expected to be one year.”

Johnson said people who find themselves starting to get upset while driving should pull off the road until they calm down.

“If you’re in a situation where you’ve been cut off accidentally by someone and you start to feel your temper flare, and you start to get mad, the best advice we can give is to pull off the side of the road, take a deep breath, calm down and after you calm down get back on the road to drive,” he said. “If you don’t and you get into a rage situation where something like this can happen or worse, you can kill somebody. So we just ask that you kind of think about that as you’re driving. There’s a lot of cars on the road, so you’ve got to be patient.”

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