A ghost of a Polish accent still punctuated the speech of Ireneusz Glodz as he described what he saw nearly a year ago as he and his family drove up I-385 toward Greenville.
“It was like a flying man fell from the sky on the highway in front of us,” said Glodz, who said he immigrated to Chicago from Poland 20 years ago and owns his own electrical contracting company.
Glodz was the first of three witnesses to testify Monday as the trial of Pamela Michelle Tackett, 32, of Gray Court got underway at the Hillcrest Judicial Complex. Tackett is charged with felony DUI resulting in death in the March 28, 2018 crash that claimed the life of Zach Ivey and seriously injured John Howell.
Both men were employees of Bagwell Fencing and were working on I-385 near exit 19 when they were struck by Tackett’s vehicle.
Eighth Circuit Special Assistant Solicitor R. Knox McMahon made opening arguments for the prosecution, accusing Tackett of being under the influence of prescription drugs when she crashed into the boldly marked Bagwell Fence truck and the two men.
“This case is all about drugs,” McMahon said, “prescribed drugs.”
McMahon noted six prescription drugs as well as marijuana found in Tackett’s silver SUV following the accident.
Anderson-based defense attorney David Stoddard said Tackett suffers from several mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), anxiety and phobias. He urged the jury to keep open minds before McMahon and Assistant Solicitor Warren Mowry began to call a string of witnesses for the state.
Stoddard said neither the prescription drugs nor the marijuana played a role in the crash, but rather Tackett had a medical episode that caused her to lose consciousness behind the wheel.
“When investigators arrive, they’re looking for signs of impairment,” Stoddard said. “She passed out (while driving), and after she came to, even though she was shaken, when you look at the (body cam) video, I think you will see signs of sobriety.”
Two other witnesses – West Columbia’s Diane Conte and Simpsonville’s Sherrie Abercrombie – also described the grizzly scene they came upon following the crash.
Testimony continued Tuesday morning on behalf of the state with investigating officers from the South Carolina Highway Patrol being questioned and body-cam footage being reviewed. Other witnesses concerning Tackett’s toxicology reports also took the witness stand.