CHERAW — A Cheraw man was found dead on West Market Street early Saturday, after being run over by a wrecker headed to a nightclub to tow a car.
The incident occurred less than a mile from the man’s home, police said.
The victim is identified as Andre K. Austin, 29.
Just off the pavement near the crash scene, someone has made a make-shift memorial to Austin comprised of a pastel-colored pinwheel and groupings of red and white flowers. The location is just west of LeGrand Street.
Meanwhile, investigators are trying to figure out why Austin would be laying in the road at 3:30 in the morning.
“We know the victim was laying in the road and was struck by a wrecker, and pronounced dead at the scene,” said Cheraw Police Chief Jay Brooks.
Austin may have been walking home. He lives about a half-mile from the accident scene, on a dirt road off of West Market Street.
The Cheraw Police Department called in the state highway patrol’s investigative team to assist.
Investigators have determined that Austin was laying entirely in the roadway, in the westbound lane of West Market Street, when he was struck by the westbound wrecker. The impact tossed the man’s body off to the ditch. Officers found Austin laying face up, with his feet off into the dirt and bushes of the shoulder, and his head on the white line of the pavement.
Chief Brooks said the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office had called the local wrecker service to tow a car at the nightclub known as Chocolate City, just outside Cheraw’s town limits. Brooks said he did not have the name of the wrecker service, nor the driver of the wrecker, readily available.
“It’s still under investigation but there are no charges at this time,” Brooks said.
County Coroner Kip Kiser was called to the area shortly after 4 a.m. He pronounced Austin dead at the scene.
The autopsy has been completed by Newberry Pathology, Kiser said. “Preliminary results show he died from injuries sustained from the accident,” he said.
A final autopsy report will not be completed until toxicology results are obtained from the state crime lab in Columbia, which can take from 12 to 16 weeks due to a backlog of cases.
Authorities questioned about the case said they don’t know whether Austin might have been drinking the night he died.
Capt. Keith Thomas of the Cheraw Police Department said it’s important to find out what exactly happened on West Market Street that morning.
“With a fatality like this, the family wants and deserves to know as much as we can tell them,” said Thomas, who was out at the scene Tuesday with state investigators.
Thomas said an incident like this one can generate a lot of rumors and the only way to set those aside and get as close to truth as possible is through a thorough investigation, including the scene reconstruction and mapping that was being conducted Tuesday morning.
The mapping, coupled with the pathology report, will help investigators determined what happened, he said.
“Why was he laying in the roadway? Some reasons are medical and some are not,” said Thomas.
Asked if police have determined Austin’s actions leading up to his death, Thomas said, “We do know where he was before he got here.” He did not elaborate.